Archive for August, 2011

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August 31, 2011

It’s chilly this morning — the first sign of the onset of my favorite season, Fall, and I have no plans today except to sleep, maybe watch some Barney Miller, and drink coffee.

I woke up kind of laughing at myself for ever thinking twice about whether or not some random boy likes me. The truth is, I don’t really have the energy to get to know someone new, and that realization made me happy. For so long, now, I’ve been struggling to get over my past relationship, using the Cyclone as some kind of intermediate substitute, and worrying that I’ll never have another boyfriend. It is a relief to wake up this morning and find those worries suddenly insignificant.

I’m not sure how this change came about. Maybe the Confidence Fairy visited me in my sleep. All I know is that I feel free to care about other things, and it’s about time.

it is such a wonderful, cold morning. I plan to stay in bed as long as I can, finish the book I’m reading about the Mitford sisters, and drink a lot of coffee. As the Beatles put it, “Oh, that magic feeling: nowhere to go.”

In other news, it is my dear friend Sue B’s birthday today, and while we are on opposite coasts and I cannot toast her in person, I raise my cup of coffee in her honor, for she is a wonderful, hilarious person and deserving of much more than a virtual toast. Ever since we met in detention years ago, we were destined to be friends, and I’m grateful that we are.

In other, other news, I feel the spark of creativity returning. Ever since I got sick, I haven’t felt like painting or drawing, and the only writing I do is here (you’re welcome).

I’m still waiting for my test results, and I have another round of chemo tomorrow, but today, I feel more clarity than I have in a year or more. Maybe the Clarity Fairy visited me, too. Yes. I’m certain that is the case.

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August 30, 2011

The radiology center where I go to get PET scans is staffed almost exclusively by cute guys. This is entertaining and distressing, but overall helps to distract me from the proceedings of lying on a plank in a cold room while my insides are scanned with X rays or lasers or something. I should know, but I don’t, because so far, I have failed to read the informative brochures in the lobby.

Now, I wait for the results of the scan. I plan to use this time by sleeping a lot, possibly eating some salt water taffy. I like to keep my expectations realistic.

Speaking of realistic, I apparently was NOT on a date Saturday, judging by the polite-yet-neutral response I got to my “Hey, thanks for the CD, that was fun” text. I could sit here and drive myself crazy wondering why this is, but instead, I’m going to file it under “He’s just not that into you,” subheading, “Whatever,” and move on. I was not put on this earth to wonder why someone is not infatuated with me. I was put on this earth to sleep and eat salt water taffy.

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August 29, 2011

Bang! Did you hear that? It was the sound of my car’s bumper being crushed in by a Chevy Silverado as we both backed out of our parking spaces. I didn’t see him because his pewter-colored paint job was the same colors as the shadows. He hit me pretty hard, but there was no damage to his bumper. Metal Vs plastic, metal’s gonna win.

So, I gave him my insurance info and license, and he then refused to give me his, speaking through an interpreter, his passenger, to tell me he didn’t have to give me his, because the accident was my fault. Oh, really? I got his license number and called my insurance company and the police, but the bottom line is: the guy most likely isn’t insured, and so I can get my bumper repaired if I want to pay the $500 deductible. Do I? I’m not sure. It’s just a car, and the dent doesn’t affect the performance of the car. I’m torn. I’m going to sleep on it.

In other news, I haven’t heard from my “date” the other night, so maybe it wasn’t a date, after all. Eh, I’ll live. Maybe he’s waiting to hear what I think of his CD. Maybe he wasn’t mystically attracted to me. Maybe I’m giving this way more thought than he is. Yes, I’m certain that’s the case.

Tuesday is my next PET scan, which will tell me how the chemo is doing. I’m hoping it’s kicking ass and that I’m on the road to recovery. Except for a little nausea and my hair continuing to fall out by the handful, I actually don’t feel too horrible. Oh, and the slight acne. That is fun, too. But really, if my doctor told me that the cancer was gone but I had permanent acne, I’d thank my lucky stars and live with it.

Oh, who am I kidding? You know I’d complain about it.

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August 28, 2011

So, last night, as I was complaining about my love life or lack thereof, I got a text from a cute boy I like. Our interactions up til then had been limited strictly to friendly greetings when we happened to meet, or me waving hello when I saw his band perform, so we are not exactly talking Romeo and Juliet, here.

Anyway, he texted that he wanted to give me a CD of his band, and I said ok, changed out of my pajamas and put on some lipstick, and went to meet him, fully prepared to puck up the CD and leave.

Except once I got to the bar, which was full to its Irish gills with patrons, and I got the CD, my “friend” suggested going somewhere quieter. So, we did, and he bought me a drink, and we had a great conversation about music and books. (He works at the same place the Cyclone’s psychotic ex-girlfriend did, but I did not mention that, nor the fact that she’s been actively trying to stalk me on Facebook via a series of fake profile friend requests.)

After that bar, we went to another, where he played a Heart song on the jukebox for me, and we talked about the Stones and the Faces and guitars. And then the Cyclone came in, so I introduced them. And then the night ended and we said our goodbyes. So, it wasn’t so much a date as an extended hangout, but it took my mind off the Cyclone and his juvenile asshole behavior earlier in the day.

And then I took the Cyclone to breakfast and dropped him off at home, and got about a dozen calls from him at 5:00 AM, but couldn’t hear anything on the line. And now his phone has been turned off, so I can’t get in touch with him. I don’t know if he’s out of battery, or mad at me, or in jail. You never know, with him.

But anyway: I got out of the house, hung out with a boy I’ve had a crush on for months, and had a darn good time. Sometimes, the things you need just appear.

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August 27, 2011

My visitors are leaving tomorrow, which makes me more than vaguely sad, and brings up the illogical wish that all my loved ones lived in my neighborhood. When everyone leaves, it’s true, the house is quiet, but it’s lonely.

I think it was impending loneliness that caused the argument between me and the Cyclone today. Well, the pressure my fear of loneliness caused me, which I apparently took out on him. I don’t know. I don’t know where he fits in in my life, but neither the role of boyfriend nor counselor fits. Not that either title should fit him, you understand, but sometimes he plays the part, as I do for him. It’s ridiculous.

There are some nights when I love sleeping alone in my bed, in an otherwise empty apartment, and there are some nights when I wish for company. I’m not talking about sex, I’m talking about someone with the emotional strength to put an arm around me and let me cry myself to sleep without having it bring him down, too. The men I have chosen in the past to share my life have not necessarily had the capacity to deal with my anxiety, my occasional despair. And really, it’s not all up to them. I take responsibility for my periodic sadness, my occasional despair. I’m imperfect. I know enough about myself to understand that I need a strong partner. When I have chosen otherwise, I have lived with the consequences: being stonewalled, for example, or outright abandoned.

The Cyclone today asked me, in total frustration, what I wanted from him. “Oh,” I thought, “I want you to be someone else.” I don’t remember what I answered, and it doesn’t even matter. Every day that passes, I become more certain that this mysterious strong partner does not exist. Or, that if he does exist, I will never find him because he’s not in my apartment, which is where I spend most of my time.

The Cyclone was there for me when I was desperately ill, and would in fact put his arm around me and let me cry about things when I needed to. I gave him a place to stay, and he gave me someone to hold onto as I fell asleep. In return, I helped him get a job and an apartment, and become more independent. It wasn’t a bad exchange. I’m just feeling like I need to move to the next level, and don’t really have a lot to offer in the bargain. What am I going to say to someone? “Hi, I have stage 4 liver cancer and apparently a lot of emotional issues including what you might call a bad hangover from my previous relationship. I can seem normal for surprisingly long periods, but I have major trust issues and fear of abandonment. Wanna hang out?”

Anyway, a boy I have a crush on just texted me. He wants to give me a CD of his band. He reminds me of a young Mike Nesmith, which I find really appealing, and he’s way too young for me, which is also appealing. He wants to meet me at the bar on the corner. I’m pretty 99.99% certain that he does not have a crush on me and just wants to give me the CD, even though I just saw his band last night so I know what they sound like, but what the hey.

I guess I should change out of my pajamas and put on some lipstick.

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August 25, 2011

A couple of hours watching the waves roll in did a world of good today, despite the fact that I forgot to put sunscreen on the tops of my feet. Eh, I’ll survive. I have gotten out of the habit of going to the beach, in favor of lying around with this salt water taffy, watching true crime. And before you think I’m getting all “Ah warsh mahself with a rag on a stick,” I will just add that my inactivity is partly a function of my fatigue from chemo, and partly a doctor’s warning to avoid sunlight.

So today, I slathered on the SPF and headed to Surfers Knoll, the one beach in town where you’re pretty much guaranteed not to see any surfers. Lots of pelicans, a few dolphins, but no surfers.

I have visitors in town this week, hooray! They gave me a good excuse to sit in the sand and observe the tide, get a little sunburnt on the tops of my feet. I love having visitors. Not only is it fun, but it keeps my mind off things like the slow leak in my left front tire, my unpaid cable bill, and the fact that my boss is hiring a temp to fill in for me at work and oh my god, what if the temp is better than me and my boss gets used to having someone not so, oh, insubordinate? All these thoughts are immaterial when sitting by the ocean, far enough from the dead seal to create the illusion of peaceful nature.

In other news, I got home just as my brother was taking a call telling him he’d gotten a job. So, he’s happy about that and so am I. I’m hoping for continued good news on all fronts. For you, too.

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August 23, 2011

After a lapse of many weeks, I met with my therapist today. I really like her; the lapse was due to medical junk on my part, and not any antipathy. She is very down-to-earth and has furnished her office with pleasant red furniture and a variety of toys which, while I do not play with them, I enjoy looking at in case the conversation lags.

My previous therapist was a Jungian analyst and I saw her twice a week while I lived in San Francisco. Sometimes more. I was very neurotic in those days, and her office was within walking distance of my apartment, so it was all very convenient. She never once addressed me by my first name. It was a very formal relationship, which suited me at the time. I was so high-strung, it took me two years before I could lie prone on her sofa, instead of sitting upright and talking nonstop, petrified that there might be silence. As time went on, I would let silence hang, and use the time to assess the outfit the doctor was wearing that day. She had shoulder-length strawberry-blonde hair which she set using hot rollers, and wore deep greens and rust a lot, to favor her coloring. She was very soft-spoken. Sometimes I used to try to imagine her eating lunch.

At any rate, today’s appointment in the red room was much more like a normal conversation. My therapist is very frank, if kind, and there’s usually a fair amount of laughter in our encounters. Today, I expressed to her something I’d been thinking about, and she looked up from her notepad with a stunned expression and pronounced my revelation “a great breakthrough!” I love praise, so I was very happy with her assessment, but I’m also uncomfortable with praise, so I was able to avoid getting a swelled head by reminding myself that I’m no better than anybody else. (I did just ask her to write down her pronouncement, date it, and sign it. Then, after a quick trip to the notary and the frame shop, my errand was through.)

I’m happy to have had this breakthrough, even though that term always reminds me unpleasantly of the character The Monkey, played with ridiculous clumsiness by Karen Black in the movie version of Portnoy’s Complaint. True, I read that book too young, along with Helter Skelter and Hunter Thompson’s book of living with the Hell’s Angels, but even at the delicate age of twelve, I recognized that Karen Black was a poor casting choice. Or whatever age I was. I don’t remember, and I probably didn’t see the movie until I was an adult, but I think you see my point, which is: Karen Black is cross-eyed.

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August 21, 2011

All my dreams of late have involved crossing bridges — this happens to me when my life is in transition. The most recent dreams have me crossing treacherous railroad trestles that traverse busy freeways. In the dreams, I’m always on foot, and hanging on for my life, but I make good progress. Let’s hope this success transfers over to my waking life.

I have another PET scan coming up. My doctor, the last time I met with her, came just short of optimism in assessing my case. It was the proper thing for her to do: we need to see the scan results before she can assess my condition. She did say that I look a lot better, and my lab tests are all pretty good. Cross your fingers for a good scan, please, or whatever your superstitious activity of choice is.

On the romantic front, from which there has been nothing to report in ages, I got a call tonight from a friend-of-a-friend. Our mutual friend put us in touch a while back, and we’ve had an intermittent Facebook and phone friendship ever since. Given my intense and justified distrust of my own judgment, and the fact that I haven’t met him in person yet, I am at best cautiously optimistic, but he seems like a good guy. Our conversations are friendly, but not really flirty, and that suits me just fine. I can handle this pace, which to anyone else might feel glacial.

Who knows? We might meet in person and have zero chemistry. Anything is possible. I’m just pleased to have a new friend who makes good conversation and seemingly isn’t focused on charming me. Charm is so dangerous.

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August 19, 2011

And as usual, I start with a lie.

It wasn’t last night, it was this afternoon. And it wasn’t my old lover, it was my old car. I was driving through a parking lot downtown, and there he was: Inky, my old black Volvo station wagon. Same license plates, missing gas cap door, maybe a few more scratches than when I sold him almost two years ago. I was glad to see him still on the road, although seeing him did make me a little sad.

I remember the day I bought him at the donated car place in Oxnard, for $1,700. He was a good car, and put up with all the miles I drove, the piles of random stuff that accumulated, partly a function of living on a boat. I am especially ill-suited to living in a very small space, because I love stuff. As a result, I once counted 27 pairs of shoes that I had rolling around in my car.

Inky, Inky, Inky. He was the last in a line of Volvo wagons I owned, and by the time I got him, I was used to their quirks. I’m glad to know he’s still going strong, but seeing him did make me melancholy for a life I left behind in my move, my big move across town.

It’s not quite as poignant to see your old car as it is to run into an old lover, but it felt similar, in the sense that it brought back a lot of memories. And I did drive away thinking that I was glad to have moved on.

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August 17, 2011

I am lazy and tired today, so I was still in bed when the City Hall carillon rang the noon hour with a song that sounded familiar, but which I couldn’t quite identify. After a bit, I recognized it as the Theme from Mahogany. “Do you know where you’re going to? Do you like the things that life is showing you?” Hm. As to the first question: no, but does anybody? As to the second question: sometimes. Life “showed me” the film Mahogany at one point, which in retrospect I probably could have done without.

My friend Catie suggests that when one is going through a hard time, it’s best to embrace it, own it, don’t try to think your way out of it, just accept it. My friend Jen adds to that: know that the hard time is temporary. All of that is good advice.

Obviously, I’m going through a hard time. Do I know where I’m going to? No, not really. I’m reliant on reports from the doctor to gauge my progress. It feels like I’m living a connect-the-dots puzzle, and I can’t tell yet what the picture is supposed to be.

I’m coming up on a year since my diagnosis, and I’m wondering what life has shown me in that time. Partly, I’ve been preoccupied with seeming to continue business as usual, a futile effort. I’ve learned that I have more friends than I have a right to, and that people are kinder and more generous than I had ever known. I’ve also had time to reflect on the things I’ve done that I’m maybe not so proud of. Maybe some day, I’ll make peace with myself over those. I don’t really know.

In the words of Jonathan Richman, My heart knows pain, my heart knows sorrow. My heart knows wrongs that it can never make right. Acceptance of the fact that I can never right certain wrongs does bring a kind of peace. All you can do is endeavor to do better in future. Or, in the words of my dear friend Emily Yates, Eventual Ukulele Superstar, “Try not to be a dick.” I suggest that you look her up on YouTube to see her fully realized musical version of this concept.

And it’s off to the doctor I go! I guess I do know where I’m going to.

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