Chapters: House

I let go today. Didn't take a single picture of the house. Didn't need any. Hasn't really been mine since we moved out four years ago, except it has. It just hasn't lived inside me, or me in it. We've let go of each other…slowly, as you do with these things.

I built the memories from the inside, all of them. His first steps at 8 months old. Bringing her home from the hospital on rodeo weekend, rain pouring down in the middle of June, gladiolus blooming halfway up the picture window.

The DOJ sitting in our living room, just after your diagnosis.

The walls we knocked down and worlds we opened up.

And your spirit leaving us at the end of that long hallway, all of us with you. The window we had to open before you'd go.

Now the slate is ready for a new run; another family can paint their memories on the walls. They'll cover ours, wonder why we did what we did to that sixty-year-old house, just like we wondered why beer cans fell out of the walls we opened up.

Sometimes you don't know why, or don't want to.

Our home now is the place we've chosen for ourselves, the place that chose us, and the place where we are together—the one with the bitchin' bathtub, wild turkeys, a crazy old diving board, and Neiman Marcus just a skip away. A girl needs her shoes.

Thank you for another chapter; I'd never have written it without you. I wish you were here to write the next one.

Circular Days: Nora Ephron And Our Boxes

We are finally moving.

Still and finally.

And the floors still aren't done. And the walls aren't quite painted.

But, we're moving. Because, well, that's  how life works. They will be done, but ready or not, HERE WE COME.

Except for the boxes.

So, now I play Tetris with the boxes. 

Tetris

And then I breathe, and check in with the world, and find out that Nora Ephron is dead, which is absolute bullshit and totally unfair. Death is often unfair, but also so very much a part of life that I'm not sure why we still feel that way about it. Still, it's unfair to those of us hanging around after to be left without those who leave us. It sucks. No more Nora Ephron.

Just boxes. And Tetris.

Lots of memories in there. Also books. So. Many. Books.

It's an odd thing arranging your life into boxes and then into a bigger box. At the end, you end up in a box of your own—pine or something of the sort. Your stuff becomes somebody else's stuff to put into boxes and move around. The circle of boxes continues.

Life. Death. Boxes.

RIP, Nora Ephron. I loved your work. I hope somebody loves moving your boxes around.

Little Sake Sipper

a sake bottle, Yashima-tanuki (酒徳利, 屋島狸)Image via Wikipedia

We were driving behind an old Toyota Land Cruiser today. No, not one of those shiny ones that would pass for the morning carpool; real one that can go OFF ROAD. Off the PAVED road. Like, into the dirt and shit.

We had a Land Cruiser when I was little, probably kindergarten age, and I'm fairly confident it had a winch on the front of it, as did the Jeep Wagoneer that followed. I have fond memories of going off-road in those vehicles, mostly the times we'd go straight up a hill or straight down a hill. The winch was usually used, in my memory, to pull some other car out of a ditch or snow bank.

Along with the culture of driving off into the wild came the CB culture, which meant we all had handles. Since our car was Japanese, my dad creatively came up with his handle, Sake Sipper. The rest of our handles followed suit. My mom was Mrs. Sake Sipper. I was Little Sake Sipper. My brother, a toddler at the time, was Little Soggy Zipper.

Then, in the late 70s, I have a distinct memory of going to the car dealership, trading in the Jeep Wagoneer, and driving home, my 6'4 1/2" father at the wheel of our brand new burnt-orange VW Rabbit. Hello, oil embargoes. He had to open the sun roof to be able to sit fully erect.

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Finding My Soul In My Surroundings: Pictures From My Week

The drive to the ranch:

Puffs

My dinner date Saturday night:

My dinner date has some serious baby blues.

The hills:

Spring in the hills

The oak tree I can't stop photographing:

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5217/5501345714_10bc17942f_m.jpg

Waiting for my latte:

Latte line

The hay barn at the ranch:

Hay barn

Curious to see what discoveries this week will bring.

I've always seen my surroundings as photographs, but the idea of carrying a camera everywhere felt awkward to me. That's what I love about my iPhone. I always have a camera with me, and it's incredibly unobtrusive. Plus, it takes a decent picture for being a phone. The apps for editing photos are so good, I rarely edit anything after uploading it to my computer. It's all done on my phone.

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Shutting Down: Self-Preservation

It's been nearly eight months since Bob died, and I'm still learning how to cope. I'm still learning how my body forces me to cope whether I want to do it that way or not. I'm learning that if I surround myself with people who need too much from me, I end up depressed.

I didn't pick up on it at first. It wasn't obvious, because it doesn't happen right away, and it doesn't happen with people with whom I share a symbiotic relationship. It doesn't happen with my children, although we have more symbiotic relationships the older they get.

But, it can easily happen with other adults, and when it does, I find myself shutting down. My energy is drained. My affect becomes flat. I lose myself, because I'm still in a stage of grief where I can barely sustain myself, much less another person, for an extended period of time.

It also makes it difficult for me to communicate my feelings. I'm so much better with the written word than verbal interactions when I'm depressed. I can't speak with any clarity when my mind isn't on my side. I can't form the sentences I need in time to keep up with a conversation.

So, I write. I blog. And I hope that people read and understand that it's me, not them. I'm still broken. I need more time. I need more space to grieve.

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2010: Life and Death

There aren't words to adequately summarize losing my husband, my children's father, being stalked online by his brothers, then betrayed by someone whom I trusted to care for my children and allowed into my home, chastised by my parents for not meeting their needs during my grief, and losing a lifelong friendship because of deceit and loss of trust. 

Fortunately, I loved and was loved by an amazing man for over two decades. I had that gift. My children had the gift of an incredible father who loved them. We have rich memories and strength to draw from when all of the shit hits. It has made us stronger as a family. We are a united force. We are fiercely protective of one another. My children may bicker like an old married couple, but do not mess with our family. We do not keep secrets in this house, and it makes us all the stronger when the attacks from the outside come. We laugh together. We yell together. We make mistakes together. We cry together.

And we have family and friends who make sure we are never in it alone. Thank you all for making sure we made it. Whether you sent us a single word or support of offered us your time, financial assistance in those early days, or never-ending physical presence, you have made all the difference in our lives. 

In 2011, I have no resolutions, as I never do. They aren't my style. I do have some wishes. I would like to just be. Get that amp off eleven. Travel some. Love some. Eat good food. See friends. Hug my kids, a lot. Live, because I didn't die.

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The Things I Still Cannot Do

As I brushed my teeth this morning, I realized I still have so many hurdles ahead of me. Small to the outside observer, but huge for me.

My husband’s electric razor still sits on the shelf next to the sink. His toothbrush, too. In our bedroom, his clothes occupy more space than my own, taking up the entire dresser, a full closet and some still wait in the laundry area on hangers to be put away because I just cannot bring myself to make the decision what or where or how. Not yet.

Paperwork. Mail. The mostly unimportant. The binder from Stanford from the transplant that never happened. It sits, too. All reminders of the work I have to do. The physical work and the emotional work.

I’ll get there. Eventually. Until then, it all waits. He waits. With me. Until I’m ready.

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City Mouse: Country Mouse

I live in a city not far from San Francisco. At last count, approximately 80,000 people called it home. My house is downtown. I can walk to Peets, Starbucks, the hospital, vet, various doctors, restaurants, bars, parks, library, schools, vineyards, Trader Joe’s and a handful of other grocery stores.

But, my city also has this to help keep me and my daughter sane:

Every week, we drive to the north side of town, wind through the hills to one of the oldest ranches in town.

And while she learns to do something I grew up doing in my own back yard, I get the joy of returning to the sights and smells and sounds of my childhood—the good parts; the ones we adults like to hold onto.

IMG_6022I remember riding to En Earl’s store on my horse to buy candy with my friends, racing through the ravines as fast as we could ride, swimming in the reservoir in the summer riding bareback, miles from home, trying to carry home the carp we’d caught with our hands in the drain pipe. How did we get them home? Why did we think they’d survive in that old horse trough/bath tub? Lord, the smell.

While I can’t imagine living in the country again, I’m so glad we have a place to go that feels like home. And a place where my daughter is making memories of her own.

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The Day You Choose: I Chose My Birthday

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There were two ways I could have started today.

Here’s the first:

Wake up. Start with the laundry list of the shitty things about my year, my life, my world. Look outside. See the hole in the fence, the work that needs to be done. Think about the things missing in my life, the losses I’ve had, the holes they’ve left.

Spend the day in the fetal position, focused on things I cannot change, paralyzed by what will not be, and unable to move.

FUCK THAT.

Today is my birthday. BIRTH DAY. A day for beginnings.

I chose a different day. I made a different day for myself.

I actually started making that day yesterday. I set the tone with my friends. I let them know what I wanted. And, God bless them, they obliged.

The messages and pictures and awesomeness started rolling in before I even went to bed. By the time I woke up this morning, I was greeted with so much love, I couldn’t help but have a great start to my day. The only weepiness I felt was from the outpouring of love coming my way.

On my way to visit my lawyer, I cranked up the music until the windows were vibrating. I had lunch with a good friend. I cranked up The Cure for the drive home, and have plans to be picked up by friends for mother/daughter mani/pedis this afternoon. Tonight, another blogging friend is coming over to hang out. Tomorrow, more friend time. Plus, OMG, THE WORLD CUP IS ON!!!

When I look outside, I don’t see a broken-down fence. I see a canvas.

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It’s all about perspective.

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What kind of day are you choosing?

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2009: The Year I Maybe Could Have Done Without, Or Not

Nuclear Medicine

Image by califmom via Flickr

This past year handed us a fuckwad of undesirable stuff. We did our best to keep the hospitals, doctors, legal and pharmaceutical industries hopping. I cursed God (when we were speaking). I prayed. I sat in silence. I sat in tears. I curled up in the fetal position on the shower floor. We nearly lost some of our loved ones. We did lose others. We lost my husband’s brother-in-law on the final day of 2009. Many things about 2009 were just plain wrong. Unexplainable.

But like life, this past year had a flipside. We loved. We were loved--sometimes by perfect strangers, people we’d never met extended their kindness and generosity our way. We laughed, inappropriately, uproariously, during chemo. I laughed with my friends—my girlfriends, my husband, my children, my blogging friends in Chicago, my online friends in the L&T&J comfort on my pjs. I listened to the laughter of my children as they discovered Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for the first time—those belly laughs that melt a mother’s heart. We felt the love and caring of friends and family who cared for us and continue to care for us in more ways than we can enumerate.

Without the pain of 2009, I would not have experienced all of its humanity.

As we move through 2010, we will again test the duality of the universe. In the next 3-4 weeks, walking into StanfordBob’s blood with be tested against that of his five siblings to see if any of them are a match to be a donor for an allogeneic stem cell transplant. The doctors at Stanford and Kaiser feel that given how aggressive his cancer has become, this is type of transplant has the best chance of success. In an allogeneic transplant, the donor’s cells help to attack the cancer—sort of the reverse of an organ transplant where the recipient’s body tries to reject the organ, in a marrow/stem cell transplant the marrow/stem cells of the donor attack the recipient. (Layman’s explanation, there.)

There’s a 1 in 4 chance a sibling will be a match. In the event that none of his siblings are a match, Bob will undergo an autologous stem cell transplant (where they use his own stem cells) to buy time while they look for an unrelated donor. Once a donor is located, a mini-allogeneic transplant will be done. (In case you’re wondering, as we did, only siblings are screened. Children, parents, other relatives, are not screened as they don’t share enough DNA, which makes them, at best, only a 50% match and the donor registry would produce a donor with a higher % match.)

Logistically, this means that Bob and I will be moving to the Palo Alto area for the next 3-4 months as Stanford requires us to be within a predefined Safe Zone distance from the hospital during the transplant process and our city, while in the Bay Area, is outside the Safe Zone. The kids will stay behind with family coming to take care of them. Thank God for grandparents. Although, I’m not sure what they did in their past lives that they had to live through my angsty teen years and now have to endure them again with my children. Do say some prayers for the grandparents. Or send booze.

Bob will be an inpatient for a number of weeks, but once he’s an outpatient, I’ll be his Nurse Ratched, responsible for preparing his low-microbial diet (he’ll have no immune system), administering his outpatient meds, being his gatekeeper, and a big list of other shit that’s in the 3-ring binder we got from Stanford that Bob’s required to read but refuses to read because I asked him to. That’s how he rolls. From what I can tell so far, his diet’s going to be even more limited than the neutropenic one, I’ll be boiling a lot of water for him to drink, and we’re going to need an apartment with good cooking facilities because we won’t be eating anywhere but in for a LOOOOOONG time.

And hey, if you’d like to help: register to be a donor. You might save my husband’s life. All it takes is a swab of your mouth. They mail you a kit. Super easy. And donating is easy, too. They don’t drill you in the bone like the old days, it’s done with an IV in your arm now. Out one arm, back in the other. If you don’t save Bob, maybe you can save someone equally awesome. Or a total asshole. How the hell do I know? I don’t think they screen for that. Stick a post-it in your kit. Tell them "no assholes, please."

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The Questions I Don't Know How To Answer

Not AgainImage by califmom via Flickr

Sometimes they’re the simple ones, the innocent questions asked by the clerk at the grocery store, like “Have you had a good day so far today?” or  “Do you have anything fun planned for the holidays?”

That second one stopped me cold last night.

What do we have planned for the holidays? What do we have planned, period?

We don’t really have the luxury of planning anymore. Every single day is lived at the mercy of a disease that controls our lives. We choose only how we react. That’s it.

There is no planning.

Back to the questions. Bob handed me one today that ruined me. It’s why I’m sitting here, in the library, writing instead of at home celebrating my son’s 13th birthday. I can’t celebrate, yet. I have to put my pieces back together first.

“I know this is morbid, but I really think you should review our life insurance policy.”

Not really a question, but it was. The subtext was, will our life insurance policy take care of me and the kids if cancer is the cause of his death.

I don’t want to know the answer to that question. Not on my son’s birthday. Not before I’ve put up our Christmas tree. Not before I’ve wrapped a single present or baked a single cookie. Not while I’m trying to drive a car. Not while I’m helping my daughter with her school work. Not now. Not today. Not yet. Not ever. I do not want to know.

But, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had that same question come into my head in the middle of the night, when his breathing is labored, when I’m scared, when he’s scared but doesn’t want me to know. The problem with saying it to each other is that we’ve given it life. Now it’s out here in the real world.

I don’t want it to have life. I want it to stay in my head where I can tuck it back into the recesses of the “what ifs” instead of out here in the light of probabilities.

I’m supposed to be celebrating my son’s life today—his 13 years of life. Instead, I’m hiding in a bag-lady ensemble in the library, passing off my crumb-covered sweater as the latest in hipster writer garb and my sniffles as allergies, so I can work through pulling my head out of my ass enough to go home and do the one thing he asked us to do to celebrate with him today—play Rock Band.

Simple request. I just hope I don’t have to sing Aqualung. That’ll really ruin my day.

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I Listen to Him Sleep and Ponder my Moratorium on Camping

A campervan, or recreational vehicle, custom-b...

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In eight hours I accompany The Artist Formerly Known As Chemo Boy to his first appointment as a remiss patient. Except he’s not remiss. He’s in remission. So, that’s the wrong word.

I could say cured, I guess. But that word scares me. Brings tears to my eyes. Makes me nervous. Makes my heart skip beats. Makes me want him to wear me like a backpack like I wanted him to do when he first got sick, when his lungs first started to fill with fluid, when he first morphed into Chet from Weird Science. (Chet sans flies. There were never flies. Thank God there weren’t flies.)

Again, we walk the uncharted.

New questions:

How often do we do these follow up visits?

What kinds of tests?

What signs do we watch for?

How soon can he…?

When will this side effect be gone?

What about this one?

Will this one ever go?

It is hard to watch him have to restrain himself from returning to his life 110%, from returning to his passions even 50%. (Well, most of his passions, but those other ones aren’t your business peeps.) I’m talking about going to the gym, weightlifting, and most importantly riding.

He hasn’t been on his dirt bike in so long. I have no idea how long it’s going to take him to get into the physical shape he needs to be in just to ride, much less ride enduros, but I hope it’s soon. Those are his sanity saver. They keep him physically fit and mentally sound. My man sans motorcycle is not my man.

And, with the kids both homeschooling this year, we’ve got no reason not to join him on the circuit (other than my distinct disdain for all things camping). But, I’ve promised to suck it the fuck up, in the name of love and family, and attempt some RV time to join him at the rides.

See, enduros aren’t so much about watching. (Except for the start, you don’t see them again until they return.) But, given the travel time, it’s a lot of lost family time, and would be a great way for the kids to see more of the great outdoors and the state, in general. Plus, I’m sure we can get a wifi signal or do some gourmet cooking on those gas stoves, right? S’mores and cocktails, at least.

So, here’s hoping Dr. W gives The Artist Formerly Known as Chemo Boy the go-ahead for ramping up for this season’s riding series, or I’m going to have one cranking man on my hands. And my hands are starting to get carpal tunnel, if ya know what I mean.

P.S. I can always get dropped off at the nearest hotel right before we pull into a camping location, right? That still counts as like “almost” doing it? It’s like “everything but.” I’m sure it is. I’m gonna ask my Mormon friends. They’ll know. I think it’s like what’s in my heart that really matters. I mean, I can totally hang there during the day and stuff, and then just hit my hotel room for sleepy time, shower time, deuce dropping time. This will work out. I know it will.

P.P.S. And before anyone gets in the comments and starts in about how I should give camping a try, let me give you a quick rundown of my camping credentials. I started camping before I could walk. I continued camping in tents, without tents, in RVs, trailers, motorhomes, 5th wheels, Class-C RVs, Class A RVs, RVs that probably cost more than my first condo, in a sleeping bag under the stars for a week in the Sierras, snow camping at 8,000 feet on cross-county skis for spring break with my family while I was in high school (while my friends were working on their tans in Hawaii), in cabins, on a beach in Mexico, and I would like to say that I feel confident in saying that I DO NOT LIKE CAMPING. IN ANY FORM.

P.P.P.S. So, y’all can appreciate it when I say I’m willing to do this RV thing for my family. Only for my family. And we will be renting said RV, because there is a strong possibility based on P.P.S. that I may only survive this experiment once before I end up under the wheel well begging for Bob to just run me the fuck over. Quite frankly, he may oblige that request. In which case, he’s going to want a fresh RV anyway.

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Cancer Is Easier, Unless You're The Cleavers

When Bob tried to kill himself with The Cancer, my first instinct was to go fetal. My second instinct was to jump off a bridge. After that, my role of Supportive Spouse was defined. His role of Chemo Boy was defined.

He got the bitchin’ cape and bald head.

chemoboy

I bought special calendars, wrapped our children in bubble wrap and rolled them down a hill. (Oh, like you’ve never wanted an excuse to do that. Don’t get all Judgy Mcjudgerson with me.)

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Much like they were for Ward and June Cleaver, our roles were clear. Chemo Boy’s role was to NOT DIE, and mine was to provide comic relief and NOT JUMP OFF THE BRIDGE.

But, now what? Now we’re on a rudderless boat. The Cancer Survivor’s Handbook doesn’t talk about this part. Google "divorce after cancer." Better yet, don't. I don't have enough Zoloft to share.

Even though we’re thanking Jesus, Mary, and the Juju Tree that he’s in remission, the kids and I miss having him at home with us. Yeah, he was sick while he was home, but he wasn't as sick as he was before he started chemo, and we like him. So, it was nice to be around him. Well, except when he was popping Prednisone, which could have made Mother Theresa a raging bitch. We just wore body armor those weeks.

Then there's the issue of territory infringement. Oy vey! Evidently, my man got used to how he started to do things around the house while he was home, but this is my mutha flippin’ domain. I’m happy to stop by his office any time he’s looking for a little input. Until then, this captain sails this domestic ship. Sometimes she sails it from a seated position, but so did Captains Kirk and Picard. And, in their absence, they had a crew fully capable of manning the helm until they returned. Mini Martha and Data are well-trained to take the controls should I leave the deck for some adult interaction to maintain my SANITY. For fuck's sake, I was babysitting other people's infants for money (and driving, but we'll save that for another post) at their ages.

Meanwhile, Ward and June need to take the Beav' out on the town. Date nights have been downright nonexistent since The Cancer came to town. No restaurant dining for The Artist Formerly Known As Chemo Boy meant no couple time for Us. We’re long overdue for a weekend away, dinners out, somewhere other than our usual haunts, movie nights, and rekindling that grown-up stuff that keeps the sparks sparkly. 

It’s time to rebuild more than The Artist Formerly Known As Chemo Boy’s atrophied muscles. It’s time to rebuild some normalcy—our brand of it, anyway. Because there is one thing I absolutely refuse to be, and that's on the shafted end of crappy statistics.



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Summer of '69: Charles Manson and Big Bird

Aldrin stands next to the Passive Seismic Expe...

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Growing up, I thought it was cool that I was born in the summer of ‘69. Shit, they wrote songs about it. They did not write songs about the summer of ‘78 or the winter of ‘43. Hell no.

They named a sexual position after the year I was born, and a fairly enjoyable one, at that. It’s not like I was born in the year of the missionary position or the year of the doggie style. That would have sucked butt. Almost literally.

And, as this year carries on, I am reminded of all the cool and historically noteworthy stuff that happened in 1969. I like to claim that much of it was done in honor of my arrival, like the landing on the moon by Apollo 11 on July 20th. I mean, they may have had that scheduled already, but I doubt it. I think they held out until they knew I was safely on the planet and propped up in front of the TV.

Another debut of awesomeness in the summer of ‘69 was that little concert they held in upstate New York. They were going to call it Joe’s Folk Fest, but I convinced them that simply naming it after the town, Woodstock, would make it easier for people to remember after they’d smoked the mondo doobage. Unfortunately, my parents wouldn’t let me attend. They claimed I was too young to be hanging out with all those hippies. So fucking judgmental. It’s not like my hair was long. I didn’t even have hair.

The next most awesome thing about 1969 was The Street with its big yellow bird, his imaginary friend, and an angry dude in a can. Sesame Street debuted in 1969. By the time I could speak, I could tell you how to get there and which one of these things was not like the other. Sesame Street was my early childhood Xanax. And a bowl of oatmeal plus Sesame Street bought my mom another hour of sleep, making her an instant fan.

The summer of '69 also had it’s share of freaky history being made. I didn’t find out about it until I was older and we were no longer living in Los Angeles, which is a good thing given my tendency toward law-defying insomnia. I came home from school sometime in late elementary/early middle school and caught a little after-school special called Helter Skelter. It’s chilling tale about a scrot bag by the name of Charles Manson. My ass was staple-gunned to that TV.

It didn’t take me long to do the math, and the geography, and realize we had been living and breathing in the midst of this nutjob's insanity during my infancy. When my mom got home, I had some FUCKING QUESTIONS. She had this nonchalant answer, “I didn’t really know any of that was going on.”

HOLY MOTHER OF CHRIST ON A FLOATILLA. She didn’t know it was going on? Didn’t know? Didn’t get the memo? Was living under a rock? Missed the evening news?

No. Not exactly. She was busy taking care of me. Her firstborn child. The kid who didn’t sleep. Ever. Night. Day. Ever. Not an unhappy baby. Just not sleeping. Also, sick. Me. With the mystery illness, at that point. And her, with no Twitter. No Facebook. No 24-Hour news channels. No cable TV. No VCR. Not even a remote control for the BLACK & WHITE TV.

My God how did she survive?

She survived by not knowing that CHARLES FUCKING MANSON WAS ON THE LOOSE. Because, quite frankly, do you realize how much Xanax would be required in L.A. if everyone had really been in the know? Judy Garland Trail Mix would have been flying off the shelves. Flying. And, I don’t think Judy wanted to share.

Summer of ‘69.

I was there.

Fillin’ up my diapers.

My mom was changing 'em.

But. I. Was. There.

Awesome year. Some cool shit went down. And some weird shit. Might explain a few things about me. One or two.

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He Bought The Wrong Cancer

chemoboyIf you’re going to get cancer, pick one where they know everything about it. I don’t know which one that is, but it’s not the one my husband picked, because he picked lymphoma.

That’s how it works. You walk into the Cancer Store, go over to the shelf, pick out the one you want, take it up to the front, wait in the long-ass line, finally get to the front, pay, then take it home, and start whatever fucked up treatment plan they guess might work for the cancer you picked. Unless you picked a cancer that they Know Everything About.

We met with the Radiologist today for our consult. She was 12. And brilliant. All those 12-year old doctors are brilliant. They have to be to get into med school at 4. Because she’s 12, she knows that there isn’t definitive research indicating whether or not radiation therapy is beneficial in cases like my husband’s. Given his type of lymphoma, his age, the stage of his cancer, the fact he’s in remission, how well he responded to chemo, and the laundry list of potential and inevitable side effects of radiation, the jury is truly split on whether or not he should have radiation. It’s a big-ass shoulder shrug.

After a lengthy discussion with her about the pros and cons about specific situation, we’ve decided that the long-term risks to his heart and lungs and increased risk of other cancers due to the radiation aren’t worth the trade off. Mr. I’m All That has decided he’s fond of his lungs functioning at full capacity and doesn’t want to increase his risk of heart disease. Whatever.

There’s also a very real possibility that the radiation offers no added value in his case. Were he not in remission, were he 60 or 70 years old, were this his second time battling the disease, we might be making a different decision. (Personally, I think he just doesn’t want to miss another racing season.)

Instead, we’re looking toward the future and planning the We Fucked Cancer In The Eye Fiesta. It’ll give Mini-Martha something to do. That girl is in desperate need of a party to plan.

Most of all, I/we want to say thank you. Thank you to all of our friends and family, to those of you we know in real life, and to those of you we’ve never met face-to-face, who’ve walked alongside us. You’ve kept me off the bridge (or kept me company as I stood at the edge there in the early days), laughed with us, held us up, prayed for us, juiced the juju tree, baked us cookies, brought us meals, mowed our lawn (literally, not euphemistically), remodeled rooms, hauled crap to the dump (again, literally), cared for our children, cared for us, brought us lunch and kept us company during endless hours of chemo (you know who you are), sent emails, Twitters, Facebook messages, cards, care packages, created a  Chemo Boy superhero, made road trips to visit us, rolled down hills in bubble wrap, dropped everything on a moment’s notice or less, walked in our honor, raised money for cancer and so much more that makes us lucky as hell to have you in our lives. You make our socks go up and down. You are that breeze that blows our tumbleweeds into the air. We love you.

Smooches!

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FINAL CHEMO DAY!!!!

It’s finally here. The LAST DAY of chemo. The final poisoning. The last drip o’ deadly, yet life-saving drugs. The kids are farmed out, and we’re off to the races in just 8 hours. Lance Armstrong’s got nothing on us Friday. Tour de France. Psh. Whatevah. We’re riding the Tour de Chemo. (Just kidding, Lance. It’s not about the bike. I know. I know.)

We met with Dr. W Thursday afternoon, and Bob will see him again in 2 months for a follow-up appointment. He’ll also be meeting with the radiologist in a few weeks to discuss his options for radiation. They’ll want to wait for the effects of chemo to subside first, anyway. So, there’s no big rush for that appointment. Even though it’s covered by Kaiser, it’s actually handled out-of-network.

Talk about operant conditioning. Bob’s been dreading this final treatment, not just mentally, but physiologically. He can taste the chemo (some of the drugs have a metallic taste as a side effect), feels ill just thinking about going, and the sight of pictures I’ve taken from past sessions make him physically ill.

Still, he’s kept his sense of humor as shown in his choice of attire for Thursday’s appointment:

IMG_0254

Death: Our nation’s number one killer

I love that man. Love. Him. With all my parts.

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The Fourth

Fire Anemone

Image by califmom via Flickr

I’m not quite sure how our Independence Day will play out this year. Hubs’ counts are on the decline this weekend. So, crowds are off limits. We may head over to the Redwood City area to watch the fireworks from Redwood Shores and Foster City from the waterfront, which we can do from a number of spots west of Highway 101 according to a hot tip from Twitter. We’ll have to see how Hubs is feeling. Chemo really is making him tired this round.

If we do head over to the Peninsula, maybe we’ll stop in to say our babysitter/friend/awesome chick/neighbor who’s holed up at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital trying to keep her previously transplanted kidney from being a reject. The turkey butt. Say a prayer and sacrifice your special vermin for K. There is nothing fun about being a hip, hot 19-year old stuck in the children’s hospital, where they limit you to PG movies and keep giving you your meds in liquid, child-sized doses when your pain is adult-sized.

I’d also like to give a shout out (how flippin’ old does that make me sound?) to my friends Hillary and Kim who turned 40 on July 1st and 4th, respectively. Who would have imagined 1 out of the 3 of us would be spending our 40th birthday sober? Certainly not the one I would have predicted, nor for that reason. How little our middle-school selves knew. Thankfully, we no longer have to shoulder tap to get our booze. Cheers to you, ladies. Salut! I look forward to joining your club on the 9th.

 

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9 More Shopping Days

Christian Louboutin shoe at BATA Shoe Museum

Image via Wikipedia

Yes, yes y’all. I’m clocking four decades this month, and you have just nine more days to find that super special gift for yours truly.

Just kidding. Not about turning forty. That part is totally happening. Complete with me doing a little booty shake to celebrate.

As for the gifts, I’m pretty much good to go—what with the whole “cancer’s in remission” thing. One more booty dance.

If I had to make a wish list for my fortieth birthday, it would be totally unreasonable, overpriced, purely self-indulgent shit--you know, like the list you make for Santa when you still believe.

I’ve got some spare time, thought. So, let’s have a go at my make believe list.

  • 4 bedroom 4 bath house with a pool and a hot tub
  • insanely fabulous DSLR camera that takes grown up pictures
  • trip to Europe
  • a beach house
  • $300 jeans, $700 shoes, $200 bras and panties, and I’ll probably need a shirt to go with that, maybe two
  • a month on Kauai

On my altruistic day (NOT my 40th birthday), I’ll make a different list--one where I wish for world peace, clean water, a special island for Perez Hilton, stuff like that. For now, I’ll keep drooling over the Christian Louboutins.

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