Tag: cancer and friendship

The Second Line

Not the first, nor ever last,
The Second Line dances ecstatically past.
Behind the mourners, they’re not the saints,
All uplifted, marching in crowded street’s restraints.
Wheeling, turning, lift and fall with porch swings,
All souls rise upon the polls and upon night’s owl’s wings.

Arriving I walked through stranded streets,
Leaving, I grasp a heart (as my own skipped a beat.)
Coming to hear my disease my diagnosis,
Going to feel your hands opening my prognosis.
“I believe you understood I needed nothing!”
Somehow I left the sand untracked, forgetting every something,
And now I remember to choose without no judgement (or cups or wands)—
The images I neatly packed tumbled and eroded into sand.
When I lost my vision I cannot recall, but you held me in your light,
Though I came to find my courage, I dance away with second sight.

Friendship, Cancer, and The Jokers

“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality” – Seneca

On my 52nd birthday my husband comedically quipped, “From her on baby you’re as old as a joker.” Why? “Because your age is equivalent of the number of cards in a deck.”

If you look in a card box after retrieving the deck of 52 necessary for the game you have in mind, such as solitaire, a pair of Jokers and the deck’s informational card sit, left over. I am the leftover — and now I’m entering the stage of life, the unwanted, the leftovers. I am in at the dawning of the age of the Joker.

Have a listen to the Australian band Wolfmother’s song, “Joker and the Thief.” It’s very catchy and if you like that song and haven’t had the pleasure of listening to Wolfmother their eponymous first album is great and has another song I like quite a lot called “Woman.” A three piece band, their sound is that of a love child, borne of Spinal Tap and Jack White. Here’s a link for The Joker and the Thief on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lkPfgzR6Hw

“Can you see the joker flying over / as she’s standing in a field of clover.” Great visual for song lyrics, dreamlike and yet ominous, a girl whose innocence is her honor, and the bringer of death the Joker poised to take her away. At any rate, clover as I visualize it carpets the fields of Scotland and of Holland. Furthermore, when you find one with a fourth leaf, rather than the common 5 leaf species, it’s considered very very lucky. The green carpeted field conjures up the impression of a girl rolling in a field of money without a care in the world. The Joker takes away that innocence and invincibility – I’m no longer a girl anymore.

I’m now firmly planted on the other side of 50 years old – more than half a century on this third orbital from the dying star in our solar system. Remember when youth outweighed the cataclysmic teenage ubermensch-ism? Remember when 50 seemed extraordinarily old? 50+ years to a teenager seems so ancient. God, like, you know Stonehenge or the Pyramids at Giza. Rude punks, my other mohawk prickly friends and I would elbow one another and smirk towards those who crossed the half century line and to any person over 50: “wow that’s so old.” So, turning some kind of sharp corner, I’m now the joker in the pack with the deck of cards. The cards that don’t matter and stay in the box, and no one cares if the jokers get lost.

I suppose if given the choice to see what I’d become now at this age, I think I’d like who I am and what I accomplished. Hopefully, you can look at yourself now, and know having all of those years to look back upon and smile with happiness in the warmth of good memories, or with bad decisions and hurt and sometimes embarrassment, the chill of regret comes and goes in a fleeting moment. Sometimes, we get the chance to undo a past regret. The opportunities come along infrequently, so try to recognize one when you happen upon it. I think it’s a strange enough concept, given the premise that you make your fate and take what’s in front of you – and make yourself better, create an improvement for your future self to incorporate. Use the good in front of you to drive your decisions.

Allow me to illustrate this phenomena with a personal example. About three years ago, I felt awful. However, I’d just gotten through a bunch of personal dramas — my dad died, my cat almost died, and a person who was a “friend” did something to cause enough stress to kill a normal human being. That was also when my husband tumbled deep into the dark well of depression.

Exactly thee months into 2015 I was really feeling awful and after watching me curl up into a ball on the bed, hands reaching and crying in absolutely the worst pain I’d ever physically felt in my life, he said that’s it we’re headed to the ER. We all thought it was food poisoning. Wrong diagnosis. There were 7.5 liters of ascetic fluid that built up in my abdominal cavity. If you’re unfamiliar with how cancer travels from one place to another in the body, they can only travel via your blood stream or your lymphatic system. When cancer goes rogue through the blood stream, it goes through the liver which goes into overdrive and other extreme chemical reactions happen. I’ll skip the details, but the net effect causes a fluid to build up, and floating metastatic cancer cells coagulate without real purpose like Mercury in an old anal thermometer. The silver beads attracted to one another and make larger more expansive ones that light up on a CT scan like tiny oil slicks.

Hey, congratulations you’ve got stage IV cancer of the breast and bone lesions. Well, that explains why I wasn’t feeling so well. I recall receiving an email right before that most horrible week from a good friend and the email required my immediate attention. My attention won’t relate to anything at all back then when I had the diagnosis come down on me so hard I didn’t know when or where I was in the scheme of life. I don’t think I even opened email from back then yet. It sits, unread in my inbox – all of it.

I lost the chance then at giving my hand to hold for a moment if she chose to pick it up so she could feel even slightly better – because I know intimately now tragedy causes loneliness. Let me say though, as a Joker I feel magically imbued with some preternatural ability to move around the here and now without being seen. Everywhere I go, I am not needed especially, yet I am empowered by my invisibility and the wisdom that improves with age. My wisdom tells me to go see her – call her – send flowers. DO ANYTHING to apologize that my physical state hasn’t allowed me to give her the attention then she probably didn’t need but I should have given her.

The Joker flies over and takes innocence like gasoline and soars over more clover until I find the lucky one, the one with four leaves. I am the luckiest Joker alive. So, to my friend who sent me a birthday card, now that the fireworks of the fourth are over I want to somehow tell her I love her and I think of her very often. I do hope she’s forgiven my remiss, having found out about my situation coinciding with her life’s loss. I hope so anyway.

She’s one of the good people I’m blessed in my life to know. The four leaf clovers? I now realize they’re the people in your life who I should never let go of and never give up on – regardless of the situation. They don’t care about a miscue. They’re too deep to be so shallow. They care about me and send the most positive thoughts they can.

Thank you my dear clover in the hills, I hope to see you very soon.

Plan 9 From Inner Space or The Week from the Black Lagoon

Hell is empty and all the devils are here.
The Tempest by W. Shakespeare

Some weeks just suck out loud. Seven days when you swerve from lane to lane avoiding wrecks. Alone in your car, you sing along to a song you love, of your own aural detriment and the unlucky winner who pulled up next to you at the long light lottery. This week’s highlights, with a stressed set of vocal cords, included both Homeward Bound by Simon and Garfunkel and Somebody to Love by Queen. Tonight brought on an earthworm of West End Girls by the Pet Shop Boys. Perhaps once I return to the century we find ourselves led through by accidentally drawing a trump card, I may find music worth my ears and my brain time.

Yeah, the kind of week when you wish for humanity to take a piss up a rope. Then magically, someone comes along and makes your heart warmly humble. Gives you a case of the humilities. A roaring, hair blowing, house flooding giant tsunami of love in your heart. For anyone who wants some. And some folks, too, who don’t seem to want any of your kind of love at all. Screw them, not literally of course unless you really want to, they’re getting loved by you irrespective of attitudinal tapeworms.

There’s people in our midst who quietly and with a dignified grace sweep beautifully and lovingly for no apparent reason into your world. They may stay for a week, a month or maybe a few months or a year. They cannot remain a permanent fixture physically in your life, but change you spiritually and create space for you to accept ideas and postulations that contemplation in the past would bring up your lunch.

Imagine with me of a time when cancer finds you and you find it eventually at any stage – doesn’t really matter. Just as the people who come in and out of your life during your cancer journey: they find you and you find them. Two specific people came into my life recently, each of them so different yet perhaps not so different if you didn’t know what they looked like or what either of them do or did for a living. We measure people by what they do in our culture, rather than the quality of the spirit they bring to our physical world – with a voice that roars quietly in your ears, almost miraculously, when they’re not in your presence. No discussions about why it’s so fucking miraculous that we’re even reading and writing to one another or having heated or gentle discussions together and how unbelievably unlikely it is that we’re here at all…they embody why it’s just so cool to be human.

The first person to find me lost on my own verbose path and take my and pull me gently in a healthier direction, began as a business relationship and grew into a friendship. I am 52 she is a damned fine looking woman in her early 70s with the most piercing green apple eyes I’ve ever seen. I love her as a friend can love a friend when you know how unlikely the friendship but how likely once you dig a layer under the other persons skin and vice versa. She’s gotten me to my current psychologist. My psychologist has had breast cancer, and I’ve met with her twice in seven days and again Monday next week. She along with my green apple wise woman gave me a gift of female co-thinkers to help me through the tunnel I am currently in and not letting me drift into the walls of the tunnel as I find the other side with my speedometer going just a tad slower. No wrecks.

The other signs his email this way:
Peace in peculiar times.
And with this quote:
“While waiting for the other shoe to drop, hop around on the one you’re wearing.”

I find along side the road I’m currently on in my life with cancer, not waste and detritus, but people. Not hitchhikers, but people waving to me and telling me to keep going and not to stop since its rather unnecessary.

The second person has a plan in this life of mine but more on him later. Just know that he’s a cat of many lives and doesn’t stop to lick any wounds. He simply stretches and stretches on with life leaving behind the ugly, the illness, the angry, the negative, and the weight of the past. He’s lighter than air. I hope when I meet him in person I can breath a bit easier knowing that we are not in this journey of ours alone and that other humans in this consciousness came before us to allow free passage of our own loves and lives from one to another and that’s what it’s all about.

Peace out.
Next week should provide for better spiritual happiness and music to tap my foot to the beat of in order to move ahead one more space on the board.

I hear Closer to the Heart by Rush and leave you with this song for by which you may contemplate your navel lint.

Closer to the Heart

Maps and Legends

My epic signed by blue,
Pencils edited, erased.
Pages loosened and flew,
White winged birds sung,
Tightened claws bound to lines,
Snap and fly to inner space.

Shortened pagination,
Politely taken wayward
A palace ‘tross seaward.
My imagination skips,
Hissing gently, a light kiss,
Skip the lights aquatic,
Swan dive into the record.
Hole round against,
Metal and rusted center,
End over a feather,
A light in a jet stream.

Dripping ink and rain,
The last page set,
Down in a spring,
Slowly changing everything.
My books marked still,
On page one. Your laughter,
Soaked and heavy with disaster,
Sitting in the oak’s shade,
You kiss my nose and mark,
With cooled breasts. Wonderful
Of you. A park and your hand,
Reaches to shade your face,
As we read from the book
Of the dead and avoided,
The looks of their eyes,
Ashsmed and exploited.
Slaves and a haurcut.

You forgot.
Cash piles stashes,
Ashtrays and snug graves.
We all fall down.
The ground grows smaller,
As I pass the tree line,
Bangs on the Earth,
Becoming her daughter.
Funny to stand today,
Eclipsing the sun,
Looking down?
Avoiding blind faith,
Pin hole in a box,
Gentle and round.
Protect the last epoch,
Hidden in a rainstorm.
Injustice of ghost town.
What substance, space
She left us, just as wraith.

Why I Love Vintage

https://www.etsy.com/listing/500887842/vintage-rhinestone-encrusted-button-with

Buttons – it started with buttons. Vintage and old buttons to be precise. Hundreds became thousands. My theory: button mitosis. The rhinestone 1950s button you see above, one of the latest acquisitions, stands alone as a thought prototype come true by a nameless, faceless designer. I look at them as though I can save enough to button up my life. Like Eliot used coffee spoons, I measure my time in buttons.

Eclipse

Birth so luminous!
Each soul’s page,
Covers the last.
Closed together,

Bound by death.

The Island of the Misfit Toys

Metastatic cancer feels a little to me as though I am standing along with the rest of our group on a lonely island in the middle of an unknown world, called the Island of Misfit Toys. This fictitious land of Yukon Cornelius, of Rudolf one red nosed (drunk?) reindeer who guided Santa that cold Christmas night, and of Dennis who wants to become a dentist.  By the way, a study on social cognition and a desire to maintain positive feelings about the self,  Dennis and Denise represented a higher proportion suggested that people disproportionately choose careers whose labels resemble their names (e.g., people named Dennis or Denise are overrepresented among dentists) And of our own self images, they’re not influenced by much positive representations.

Especially those of us at stage IV, the stage about which no one wants to know much about at all.  We, the misfit metastats, don’t quite measure up to Santa’s ultra high standards. Therefore, we become like the toys left behind on Christmas Eve as we watch bleary-eyed and all shivering from the cold, waving goodbye to the rear end of a sleigh overflowing with gifts for everyone else. We wave to Santa Clause and his big fat ass and to eight wagging reindeer tails.  We wave as we stand alongside Mrs. Clause, who holds a glass of wine and smiles knowingly.

Betty Clause – I imagine this is her first name I don’t know how why – Betty’s thoughts travel inside the Clause residence,  followed by her plump reubenesque body into a frankincense infused, well deserved, hot and steamy bubble bath. Then, as she sinks into the temperature perfect water, I hear her sobbing tears of joy. The kind of joy we’ve all felt after a long hard job well done. She smiles and weeps at the lack of noise and and a home devoid of all the stress. Now the elves have packed up and went away until next winter, and Dennis has gone to dental academy, and all the reindeer shits been scooped up, and Betty gets a little girl time to herself! Finally!

Sadly, unlike Betty Clause, we won’t see jolly Saint Nick coming back after a magical night of delivering toys to deserving children. Instead we must look to break out of the loneliness and outside of a life without someone to cuddle our stuffed bodies covered in matted faux fur, as I feel sometimes as though I were a used up stuffed bear waiting to be yanked off the floor by my arm and taken under someone’s elbow.  The elbow of a boy who used to love me more than any other toy in the box.

I feel the compression that too much alone time can cause, like an astronaut without a helmet, the ring around his neck empty leaving him gasping purple in an airless infinite darkness for a breath of nonexistent oxygen.  Perhaps, and more apropos, metastatic breast cancer survivors represent a horde of Barbie dolls, freakish perverted proportions, and missing one or both of her once disproportionately large nipple-less breasts. Our torsos wrapped in gauze, we hobble back to the warmth of the factory, now quiet after the seasonal rush.

What I do know of cancer’s tonnage dump of loneliness is this: it’s a single perfectly understood universal gestalt, which  includes the undeniable, unbearable heaviness of spending our days just ghostly and a turn a whiter shade of pale. Once death becomes a friend we join the universe’s energy again and mix it up. Imagine if you can, a rave that ends only when your soul, composed of the imperishable neurological energy created by our brains during our momentary, slippery lifetime.  Yet we came up short on everything truly important until it’s too late. Until we found out we had an expiry stamped on our ass that’s not easy to read even under the best light and with the best pair of medical glasses that the cancer industry has loosed on the oncologists who work to keep us alive longer.

But we’re stuck here alone without those who loved our better selves, alone with our thoughts and dreams, alone with our entire life erased from the great whiteboard in the sky and waiting to be written over by us, preferably soon and preferably with a happy ending to our stories.

Yes, I ramble. But I hope you get the point.  The imperfect beings made more imperfect by metastatic cancer of any kind aren’t the kinds of people who you’re gonna pop by and see, the guilt ridden phone call you know you should make but haven’t and shit, the longer you wait, the more difficult that call becomes. We the misfit toys don’t care when you call, when you stop by, what you DO NOT bring, what you want to talk about or do not want to discuss.  As I’ve stated in earlier posts, I don’t want to talk about cancer either.  So come by, call, write, I’m still me.  I’m still thinking about the Columbia University findings regarding how people make important life decisions on unconscious tags for better or for worse.  We make our decisions so irrationally, it seems, that there must be some reason, something we don’t realize.  Here’s the well stated conclusion of this very interesting paper on Attitudes and Social Cognition.

The findings of this report stand in sharp contrast to many of the assumptions that both scientists and lay people have typically made about major life decisions. For example, these findings raise serious questions about whether people are fully in control of their own behavior. Nonetheless, the idea that people make major life decisions on the basis of unconscious decision rules does not necessarily mean that people are irrational. Instead, the specific form of implicit egotism identified in this research may represent an unconscious route through which people create social worlds that typically make them feel good.

Such speculations aside, the most important implications of these studies may be the most obvious: there may be much more in a name than most people realize. To paraphrase an anonymous author of tongue twisters, this research offers some new insights into why some people might find it more satisfying than others to sell seashells by the seashore. Why do we seem to make so many important life decisions based on unconscious emotional responses? I suppose we truly trust our guts to decide what makes us happy? Is it the same reasoning That causes so many more people with the names Denise and Dennis becomd dentists than those named Bill or Belinda?

I assume if there were more personally uplifting stories of some of us who were doing well, pictures of us with hair not just with our turban or wig slightly off kilter on our heads, or emaciated from the ravages of chemotherapy with puffy grey circles like rain clouds under our eyes, then maybe the loneliness of cancer wouldn’t be so deep and dark.  Maybe so many husbands and partners wouldn’t become depressed or even leave.  Maybe we would meet more people like ourselves instead of hiding away to stay at home.  The wounds deepen with every passing month, albeit invisible wounds. The kind that even Santa Clause can’t put on his list as us being naughty or nice this year.

The findings of this report stand in sharp contrast to many of the assumptions that both scientists and lay people have typically made about major life decisions. For example, these findings raise serious questions about whether people are fully in control of their own behavior. Nonetheless, the idea that people make major life decisions on the basis of unconscious decision rules does not necessarily mean that people are irrational. Instead, the specific form of implicit egotism identified in this research may represent an unconscious route through which people create social worlds that typically make them feel good. Such speculations aside, the most important implications of these studies may be the most obvious: there may be much more in a name than most people realize.

To paraphrase an anonymous author of tongue twisters, this research offers some new insights into why some people might find it more satisfying than others to sell seashells by the seashore.

Speaking words of wisdom…

Half a Block Away

There is no greater sorrow than to recall the misery in time we were happy
– Dante

A belligerent handshake, a reluctantly shared cab.
“You know where to let me out?” Your smile, a dagger,
Mouth unwrapping secrets, your sleeves full of cards.
My stomach twists into a gilded fist, so hard,
Throwing a kiss, missing me, you stagger like a park drunk.
In contretemps to your sadness beleaguered and deflected,
Reflecting my resistance on thick plexiglass between us.

Silly, futile shakers who still Tango, with tight hands I slump over your shoulder cold as a rag doll.
Ridiculous. A slipknot stitching me together, jerking me up and over.
You sit me up down here, and I slouch over a stool, nearly fainting, falling, failing.
A light switch flipped peeling myself off your back, We heard lowing cows in the beer soaked yellow fields,
So you  drive me up to the meadows.
Somewhere, the bags of nothing, value of rice flour.
White, like a spit full,of pigs playing poker.

It’s a funny to hear you laughing at jokes older than
Chicago’s elevated trains and trades slid down so torrid.
You hysterical fowl, scornful defenders of anarchy and faith stop. They take a quick look at me,
Face fell first, my cheek on the dry floorboards.
So cheaply made – she’s broken but a workhorse, so you spend less overall.
My face looks like an unbaked raw pie, a bargain.
As my eyes search in vein for a sliver of sky to take me away.
I cooked myself dry from the hot rays and heard,
“She doesn’t know. She’s not worth a dollar but some schmuck secretly paid.”
Her flesh white and the other, a pink piglet that braces itself,
She then becomes a fertile delicate lily. And no mud, no vase, no shelf, in the flesh.

Twisted into aching, she hurts on the gray cold of concrete.
Twenty-four lines back out west, a speechwriter took his holiday.
Filibuster and revolution on the kitchen floor,
Swinging doors evacuate eight, or maybe 12, but I recall the 64th.
Play it with emotion, singing a cappella of coarse.

Extract your lists. Add the new potion —
Keep it simple, no paralysis, you of weak notion.
Now how to explain your remiss?
Who laughs at love’s sanguine languishing sarcophagus,
They soon find themselves falling far down below –
Grace on a sky high alabaster precipice.

From Nifty to Niftier

In 2012, I was a “nifty” woman awarded the label of a top 50 women in technology on twitter by Webbiquity.com – hey that’s pretty cool. But today, my disabled body cannot find a way to arrive on time, maybe 50 minutes late, but not an award-worthy statistic. 2017 Nifty Fifty Flake. Making lemonade from the lemons that fall far from the tress and slooooowly attempting an ascension to the locally driven retail and internet word search puzzle grabbing customers to my Etsy site. I rise or try to anyway, to arise to the transcendent world of low tech ecofashion. I recently wrote a post on my Etsy shop about the waste in the fast fashion industry, which I had no idea existed until I researched the surface of what I’m trying to accomplish by selling vintage goods. I knew it was good for the environment but I had no idea about how good.

Here’s the post for your reading pleasure and feel free to visit my shop at www.etsy.com/post/yeuxdeux.

Hello, my fellow self proclaimed eco-fashionistas, please read on and give yourselves another pat on the back for buying vintage from a small purveyor. Your proud and your clothing says more about your real love of our planet and not just of great old fashion.
Imaging it’s about 7:30 on a regular weeknight and you walk from the offie to a working dinner with some clients. As you toss your 40’s baby blue crushed velvet jacket over your chair and sit down while placing a napkin over the lap of your favorite new old 50’s dress. You can also be aware of the ooh’s and aah’s, since we all know vintage when worn well brings us many questions and can be great conversation starters as well. And now you can also tell all those complimenting your gorgeous and unique, well fitted outfit the facts about today’s new “fast fashion,” akin to fast food, and the waste of the fashion industry since the second world war, especially in the United States.
Here’s some fast facts for you – and not just to make you feel good about buying good vintage, wearing it, gifting vintage and antique pieces, but about not filling our land with more waste from the now second largest polluter and waste maker of all manufacturing industries.
  • As much as 15% of fabric ends up trashed in the process of making clothes. (US EPA, 2016)
  • 11.1 million tons of clothing are thrown away per year and the average American trashes 63 pounds of textiles per year. (US EPA 2006)
  • The average T-shirt wastes 700 gallons of water in manufacturing (US EPA, 2017)

Petroleum-based polyester and poly blends comprise most garments manufactured today in fast fashion found in stores like Target, H&M and others. The fabric proves very hard to recycle without losing quality and therefore goes mainly to the dump along with 15% of the other wasted materials mentioned above, winding up on the manufacturing plant floor. We won’t discuss the overseas manufacturing of garments in China and the Philippines where blue jeans create a special kind of illness uno themselves to the human capital creating the tight pre-washed garments that make your ass look great!

And for the back pocket of your jeans, here’s the fast fashion facts you may want to take with you to continue that dinner conversation you started back in the introductory paragraph of this blog post:

  • US consumers buy 20 million garments per year
  • That means every man, woman, child, and not to mention pets in some cases buy 63 garments per person per year.
  • That means everyone buys at least 1+ garment per week.
    The US EPA 2017
Would you rather read an exciting new sky blue 1940’s jacket hand-made in gorgeous crushed velvet just came into YeuxDeux Vintage and is available for your re-use and environmentally savvy shopping – arriving in less than a week and ready for you to wear, or would you rather force yourself to get in the car, waste time and gas, buy something not quite so dazzling and at the same price, and chance that someone else at the table ran over to H&M for a cheap version of the same thing you ran over to H&M for at lunch to impress the customers at your table that evening?
More impressive is your still going to have this jacket in your wardrobe for years to come, and perhaps even have it for your daughter or niece or nephew to wear years from now when they steal it out of your closet?  I present to you the facts, my economically savvy and ecologically friendly favorite Etsy buyers. Isn’t that why we love vintage on another level – the real notion that we’re saving the future of our planet with fashion gifts from the past.