On Fire

Bury me amongst the trees

Where redwoods overlook the sea

From atop a crossed mountain

Where my body will quicken

From flesh into sand.

Underneath the needle-bed

Blanket, the fibers of my hair weave

A way through the wind-filled leaves.

Heat my voice with borrowed sun

Which once kissed my cheeks

Where freckles reached to meet.

You now hear my broken chords

Faintly in the the distance unmoored

Tasting the salted shore. Safely clean

I lay down on a million fine grains of sand

Not feeling myself again I repeat

To no one: I am an empty vessel.

I’ll still wake every morning

Habitually, my hands still sleep

Parting the fitted sheets aways,

Long gone I still reach after you.

I am the water, then the dew

Maturing into a pinguid mist.

The palms clap and sway to

Conduct the band at noon

To play a song of our bequest.

The hour’s imminent.

Time to ride a wicked dream on

A silk weaved carpet twisted

With last night’s ghostly breath.

Come take inventory of my remains

Should the tree mark me no more.

The lumber that’s become of me

Taken over by the shore. I am a house

Now – shelter for a family to whom you

Lost me once again. My soul holds up

The walls now, my legs hammered

Into floorboards, arms encircle

Each bedroom where the dormers rest.

My fingers lace together to build

A painted white front porch,

That’s my hips now a swing

Hung there, under the eaves.

Look up to see my head holds high

A roof; my back’s now the front door

My eyes frame All the windows, my heart beats

In the kitchen. My birds left the

Forest knowing where my mouth now sings

And the woodpecker that lived inside my trunk

Hollowed out my attic in the spring.

Let me stand strong and steady

For at least a hundred years.

By then, long gone, you built your own

And our lives live on, unworldly yet eternally.

Looking down at the rubble of what’s

Left of my body in the demolition heap.

What at all might grow from me who once

You buried underneath a tree?

Let me now burn someone’s hands

Someone lit afire from my plight.

It’s cold outside where I once stood

In the trees and dark of night

And I’ll burn vast and luminous

My spirit gives newborn light.

A Fair Question

Whether or not you’re one of two people with a cancer diagnosis or one of the 40% of that 50% whose deadly prognosis of a metastatic cancer came down like Maxwells Silver Hammer, please ask yourself one simple question. It’s fair for me to ask you to ponder this for five seconds or five decades, if youre an insightful type.

It’s also a circumstantial question with many dependencies such as family, whether or not you’re a parent, religiosity, cultural upbringing, current socioeconomic and financial positions, physical and mental health, risk aversion, spontaneous adventurer or ardent planner, shopoholic lover of material belongings, artist, creative type, traveler or homebody, number of dependents, caregiver, planning capability…well you get my point.Forget all that and give yourself a green field and ask yourself this: if you found out you had a terminal illness today and you had no real idea of when you might die but you’re going to die sooner than later given there’s currently no cure for your disease what would you change about your life as it exists today?

Would you change anything at all? Would you leave your spouse your family your children? Would you travel the world? Would you quit your job? Could you quit your job? Do you have enough money to just take off and leave to follow that lifelong dream? Do you have what’s known as a bucket list, or as I like to call it a kick the bucket list, that you’d like to check off? What would you do? For the most part I bet you won’t or cab’t change very much. “I like to change a lot,” you might think. But alas as in most situations not much can or will change. That’s because your life as it exists now is your life as it existed before you were given your prognosis of death.

A Bifurcated Mind

What metastatic cancer has taught me is that there are two worlds that exist: the one that you had before your diagnosis and the one that you had after your prognosis. Chances are you’ll have quite some time to think about this question, which may keep you up any number of nights a week. You might suffer from insomnia, wondering if you’re doing the right thing or if you’re doing the right thing by the people that you love. Perhaps you don’t think anyone loves you much at all. The fact is they probably do but maybe you have low self-esteem and you just don’t feel it. Perhaps you hate your job and you want to quit. This might be a good time to quit actually. Leaving my career, which I didn’t necessarily want to, turned out to be a rather good thing for me.

I found out that I had an artistic side and I followed it. I also followed my hunch that there was a lot of waste going on in the world and that for my own special purposes I would sell things that were not made from new materials because they’d be all antique or vintage. I feel pretty good about that. But not much else in my life changed.

Except everything.

So ask yourself this question what if anything if you were given a diagnosis of metastatic cancer and a prognosis that you would die in the next two months to two years to 20 years: what would you do differently with your life? I leave you with this question on the last day of the year. Perhaps you can write your New Year’s resolutions for 2020 with it. 2020 vision is considered a great form of hindsight isn’t it?

And yet have you thought about what you might do for the next two years or 20 years if you have them? I can tell you this much, I certainly don’t do any New Year’s resolutions anymore. In fact last year I wasn’t supposed to live past February but here I am so…

Ask yourself this question what would you change about your life today even if you weren’t given a prognosis of death in the shorter term than you thought you had. If you can change some things maybe you should ask yourself what those things should be? Then if you were given a prognosis such as I have, you wouldn’t have to ask yourself this question night after night day after day questioning the people around you looking at them as though maybe they were your enemy or maybe they were not. I’m not sure sometimes but I will say this I do have some things in my life that I wouldn’t give up for anything.

I might change small things, huge things, things that might make a difference for other people or things that might just make a difference for me. I guarantee it’s a combination of a whole bunch of things but you’ll have to think long and hard about it. Give the question justice because it’s your life.

So, you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness and you must ask yourself the following question: what would you do differently in your life or change about your life so if any given week might be your last you’d be happy with it or at the very least okay with that week?

“That’s not a fair question.”

My husband reacted with a sense of injustice, but I don’t agree in its fairness. Just as there’s no stupid questions…No, every day isn’t a great day…that much is true.

However, built upon the foundation of modern western culture insure to that, due to no fault of our own, all of us were born into a time of rampant materialism. Noting we buy delivers on its promise of satisfaction. There’s the cliché small print that spells out a guarantee of no satisfaction. What it does guarantee: you’ll never see any money back should anything go awry. A broken warranty means by simply using a product said guarantee is null and void. A manufacturer’s guarantee is akin to cancer in some ways.

By living in our bodies with the environment at a time of great threat to its own mere existence, we are swimming in chemicals and stress and we’ve not evolved to handle it nor should we.The point I’m trying to get across is that by merely living in a physical body we are very highly susceptible to illness and specifically cancer. The warranty on our physical body while living in the post industrial, sedentary, sugar infused world with melting ice caps and chemicals in our air, water, and food there’s no guarantee of any kind. Now, keeping that in mind, ask yourself what would you do differently if anything given your own personal special circumstances even if you’re not hiding “a cancer” if you were to be diagnosed with a terminal illness?

By the way, I deplore that phrase – the article in front of cancer removes it from our body’s boundaries giving it a life of its own of sorts.

Regardless of all this philosophical pondering just be happy. The year 2020 is my year of hindsight, to help me find the foresight, to live in this moment in a way that’s just right for me.

Stay Tuned…

You’ll find my answer to this question in: A Fair Question Part II.

My heart and my soul go into this blog and these words and to the people who read it I thank you and I hope you continue to do so. I hope you leave a few more comments in the next year. I love your feedback. I really like hearing from you so I can feel as though I am not writing a little vanity blog. It’s healthy to receive both criticism and accolades. Your interactions let me know writing on the cancer bus isn’t for nought. By the way I consider you my friends and my extended family so here’s a big hug.I mean, for fuck’s sake, if you read this you know some of the most personally intimate things about me. So I trust you’ll ask yourselves this question and put some time into answerinng it. I guarantee if you’re not metastaticly inclined, you’ll have a much better idea of what it’s like to have a death sentence. Most of us can’t do much but focus on remaining alive, keeping a few people around us who care, keeping our lights on and some gas in the car.

If we are lucky.

All my love,

Ilene

🎧 Podcast: Cancer at Christmas and New Year – Karin Sieger

‘Cancer at Christmas’ is the Christmas edition of the podcast ‘Cancer and You’ with psychotherapist and writer Karin Sieger.
— Read on karinsieger.com/cancer-at-christmas-new-year/

The Impeachment of a Comic and a Lose for Medicinal Laughter

Louis C.K. as a Sacrificial Ram in a spectacle-crazed narcissistic society

I need laughter. A self-prescribed medicine that does me wonders and there are very few comics who leave me in stitches of the good kind; not unlike having “the good kind of breast cancer.” As I write here in California, my healthcare costs rise with the sun, day after day, along with my pulse rate. The expenses to treat my terminal case of incurable cancer continually rise higher as a result of the current stupid administration run by a pussy grabbing, verbally abusive, somehow illegally elected president of a society looking for sacrificial mutton chop to gnaw on publicly. And without the right to a defense by a legal system in short supply of honest practitioners.

Memory strikes at the strangest of times. Thinking back about a dozen years ago, in a corporate building in the heart of Sunnyvale, sitting in my now gone office and executive technology strategist career, I typed up an opinion piece for our blog on customer experience about Louis C.K.. The piece centered on retaining artistic freedom, one brave person at a time, thus creating room for great experiences. Louie controlled his channels of distribution for recordings of his stand up shows and I was elbow deep into intellectual property rights at the time. The days right before Net Neutrality was enacted by the FCC (recently dying a whimpering, bleat of a death in the same public works department at the bequest of our aforementioned president and deceitful grabber of pussy.)

Louis publicly, though not rudely, turned away from the Machine as the Machine continued churning out cookie cutter emoji shit piles of same sounding jokes. Mr. C.K. killed with his brand of self-deprecating humor for us to feel a bit better about our own shame and small mindedness.

This same man is temporarily finished with a career, since he got the hook off stage for masturbating in front of several women. He didn’t cower and deny it. In fact as the proof of his obscene behavior towards the victims became public, we can recall he allowed all of us to peep through a window into this behavior in nearly all of his stand up routines. Comedians absolutely need attention, or they’d pick another career. But attention to alleviate deep melancholic sadness, some with deep depression, and the loneliness of their lives splayed out for us, well…like a Skype call with a guy crying as he masturbates to porn. Our own loneliness is reflected in their very presence by our own entertainment choices; we need to laugh at someone else’s misery. I think my own mortification lies somewhere between public hypocrisy and the bullshit people believe to have come from the real deal, no questions asked. Lest we forget our “elected” POTUS, who himself is a vagina pinching bag o’ wrinkly combed over Dorito dusted testicles.

Yet my ginger headed comic handled the situation as peacefully and thoughtfully as one could, with regret and a promise to listen, not to talk uncensored, open loop and without a self correcting blue pencil, as he enjoyed doing prior to public humiliation. However, I hear no discussion taking place between the sexes, only silence and one way monologues at the bobble heads reporting the now fake media and news.

To listen after a career spent providing some of the neediest of us with soul saving laughter, Louie C.K., approached this situation without denial of his actions and an apparent understanding of his responsibility for the situation. His responsibility is that of anyone who’s viewed from the bottom of the ladder as part of the desirable star making comedy higher ups. It was in these women’s presence, in the glow of their admiration of his comedic power, to hope that by watching his testicular spectacle, it would launch their careers from the bottom of the ladder from which the man himself once hailed.

So now selfishly I, who needs laughter to heal my aching body each night, am punished for his generally unconcerning, sexually self consensual, and slightly weird actions.

Yet, as a woman, even under the influence of two knockout drugs slipped into a drink by an unnamed investment banker who tried to make off with a little of my CEO poon, I said absolutely not. And he didn’t. He wound up with a thousand dollar hotel bill, a very remorseful call to my then fiancée to tell him personally why I was there, and a very embarrassed early departure.

I say to these women – if raising several million dollars to fund a 2,500 person payroll that week wasn’t worth me allowing a disgusting troll to molest me, then you could have slapped your own douchebag and walked out of the room while blowing a whistle then and there. We are free to go, lucky for us, without a hand on us and tell someone or even get psychological help for the man who tried to jack off in your presence as a way to stop it from happening again. Strength lies with those who have courage to speak up, and even do it privately if there’s concern about the future of your own careers. I hope you all made it on your own talents and did not skate upon the frozen pond of masturbational output of a depressed yet entertaining stand up artist and comedy writer.

So many men of vastly more power than his own live in a state of Denial – I believe it may become the next territory of the United States like Puerto Rico. That’s a state where power and greed align like Venus and Mars, along side sexual abuse and the fossil-fueled decay of western civilization. With the pretense of their rights and without understanding of the depth of pain of the words they shared years later and personal corrosion by public influence upon another very insecure man and his family, including his children. Then and now I say these young women’s desires to become the next of the famous, far outweigh the currency they now feel denied of receiving by rising on the heels of the heavyweight comic. His very sad, but not very deplorable actions showed the tears of the proverbial clown. The accusers’ own greediness sits shelved, some set aside with dreams of winning a Golden Globe, a Grammy, aPalm D’Or…

I pay my attention to victims of Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby. I pray for the broken dreams and hearts of those nameless and faceless women who were used and abused by the studio system in the 40s and 50s long forgotten and hardly acknowledged.

Louie knows his own strength, certainly. I don’t know him personally, yet his raw comedy brings up a certain kind of unknown/ known for me. Stand up comics, actors, writers, especially exceedingly talented ones, still put their pants back on just like us simple folk. They screw up, just like us. They jack off, too. Were all of the same stuff, no one better than another, known or unknown. His victims created another victim in a way, because an accuser’s word in the spectacle of public unconsciousness, wields a broad sword attacking a guilty until proven innocent person, like the popular opinion’s power of influence. Influence that provokes anger and raises the temperature of the our citizenry, sparked and already burning up by the fires of philosophical division.

We must now look for a target somewhere or we might just explode a load of our own sputum all over ourselves, rather than a depressive comedian’s T-shirt. How did the case rest without a conviction and with the sacrificial ram leaving the stage with more guilt and shame than what drove him to propose the naughty-ish script? Would anyone venture to guess or to even take his side of the court of majority rules opinion?

Please be my guest and comment below, as it occurs to me I should at least ask you, the unseen others, if I’m going to continue write such self-pleasuring masturbatory blog posts, what you really think. I think too many people are not going to say what we’ve all thought (admit it) – they could have just gotten up and left the situation. It’s not their fault by any stretch of the imagination, but they were not held down, nor were they his hostage. There I said it and I am a woman, too. Y’all thought it but you didn’t say it. I suppose we can now return to the spectacle that is our current POTUS already in progress. Lord, please help us all.

(And, by God, why can’t we all have a Nielsen presidential ratings “impeach” button on our $200 75” plasma TV sets’ remote controllers?)