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?)

Metastatically “Normal”: new, used or unrealistic?

On the precipice of my fifth year of living with, not dying from metastatic cancer, I regard my life as a lucky one. No crazed busses have hit me, no falling airplane debris bonked me on the head, no Acme holes swallowed me up (a la Wile E. Coyote trying to capture the turbocharged Road Runner – meep meep!), and I’ve not been engulfed by any sink holes for that matter. But I no longer live in Florida, so I’m safe from stranger crimes for now. (For a great laugh go to your country’s YouTube website or app and type in the search bar “a Florida man”. Any of the videos should suffice but the one with the black silhouette puppet of a machete wielding man is the one to which I refer.)

Congratulations! You’ve won a Brand New Life!
I’m opening a dealership to sell brand new normals at highly discounted prices to post-diagnosis cancer survivors, and free of cost to stage IV metastatic patients. Like a brand new car driven off of lot, you feel free as a bird and you let your excitement build, flying high on life. Accelerating, you motor along the highway with grand expectations of the wind in your hair and the shine of your favorite color gleaming in the sun along with your sparkling, smiling eyes…

Screeching to a complete stop, I shake your head at the realization I’ve got a lemon. Or, shall I say two lemons. The optimistic me thinks about making lemonade.

So, what’s included in the new normal?
warning high sarcasm hazards ahead
The base package may include things like: a new hair style; breast implants; a flat scarred chest; a distinctive and professionally designed tattoo should post operative implants not meet with your new body image; a new job at a lower paying salary with an understanding reporting structure and rest breaks on a downy cot under your cubicle as needed; awesome insurance plans including dental; a long life that won’t worry will change on a whim and without notice; free alternative therapies; beautiful and free cancer retreats not too far from home and including all the health benefits that your body desires; services such as a personal concierge along with house cleaning and perfect laundering done by a professional team of trained elves every night; and a new house built to spec with a walk in closets and huge jetted soaking tub; a boudoir and bathroom that exudes infused essential oils and spouts water; music based on your intuited mood as you enter the perfectly lit spa like bathroom environ with heated floors and a towel rack that hands you 10,000 thread count bath sheets, takes it from the floor; and a Rube Goldberg like device that brings you a beverage, anoints you with your favorite scent of lotion, slips you into your clothing choices, and pats your perfect and round little behind as if to say “atta girl!”

Your understanding, sensitive and emotionally available partner awaits…. and now you experience the most sensual massage you’ve ever dreamed about. To quote Hamlet, that existentially hindered spirit conjured by Shakespeare: “to sleep per chance to dream, ay theres the rub for in that sleep of death what dreams may come?” Yet, how to dream if there’s no way to find any good night’s sleep and rest a thrashed, exhausted body?

Whose normal is it, anyway?
Once, long ago a descriptive sentence of my life hadn’t used the adjective, adverb, noun, or any other grammatical form of the word normal. I find the word “normal” as applied to me, well…normally insulting. That’s before cancer. Things then changed after my diagnosis and initial prognosis. Before cancer nothing about my life was average or considered normal: my dual majors of English and philosophy of my college degree; leading unbelievably to my business strategy high tech career; all of my intimate relationships and friendships; the bend of my sociological, spiritual and political beliefs. I’m not of the norm.

Wagging my tail or bobbling my head, you’ll rarely, if ever find me at the apex of the bell curve. In fact I’ve not found myself as a median or a middle of anything. That’s with the exception of being the center of attention by default or with purpose. And I find myself spinning around quite often in a roundabout way around the forced conscription into this new life. We are all in a way traveling on our own path, without the use of any cartographers or maps, without the representations of what came before us.

Oddly enough the human condition is situational. Therefore, when tragedy strikes or hard things happen to good people, we crave the stories of others like ourselves and we want to tell our own so others can relate. It’s not a phenomenon reserved for cancer; everyone wants to feel like someone else can relate. Everyone needs community, and that’s about the only normal thing I can find in becoming one in eight and one who has dense breasts.

Yet as an outlier, it’s not the norm I find I can really relate to. It’s the unknown, messier, rockier, and lesser traveled roads to wind our way through the mountains and valleys of life we find more interesting and on which we find success as defined by us, rather than by society. So that’s the path I’ve chosen for my cancer as well. And the community in which I find the best company I hardly think I’ll ever meet in person, although I hope to someday meet some of you.

Outlier as “metser” – don’t pink on me
Never normal again- none of us, not even the pinkest prettiest petunias, the cheerleaders for survivorship and ribbons and fundraising can hide their fear, strength, weakness, joy, depression, or weariness. Least of all, those of us who are post cancer diagnosis of any sort.

Guilt, for instance, isn’t anything I can bring myself to feel these days. Even survivors guilt. In handling everything I never wanted or asked to, such as being unable to work – I’m unhireable, undesirable, and probably couldn’t meet a deadline if I wanted to…
Instead it has to become okay to be tired, exhausted, mentally and physically, from doing what you have to do to survive in this world. It’s a world that wants to believe if we look fine, we must be fine to get back to life as it was prior to diagnosis and treatments that would kill any lesser woman or man alone.

Defining a New Life
But who actually defines their life as normal? And, if you consider yourself and your life normal, then why do you need a new one after cancer or a cancer diagnosis? One should just pick up where they left off after treatments end, right? Wrong. Proof point: started a weekly two-hour program at Stanford Thursday and I’ll respect the confidentiality of our group of about 12 and two facilitator leaders. But I will say that one topic was defining a “new normal” according to which one might carry on life after treatment. Humph. Clearly a “non-metser”.

See how many things on my incomplete list apply to your normalcy. To me, a life with mets normally means:
Cowering with fear of an body ache or a pain
Becoming isolated from society either because my blood count is low or because people think cancer is contagious
Trying to get by financially on what’s left after you pay for medication
Learning the language and protocols used in the oncology community
Educating myself by reading or listening to every book, podcast, or video I can get
Fighting with the pharmacy about refills
Fighting with the insurance company about the same thing
Dehumanizing by nurses and other medical personnel
Hoping for new clinical trials and medication
Dealing with the side effects of chemo, radiation, medication or some combination thereof
Staying up abnormally late into the night
Waking abnormally late into the day
Crying too often
Needing desperately to feel human touch
Desiring the earth and the natural world around your body
Fearing the unknown every waking day
Wondering if that pain or that lump is some progression of our cancer
Attending cancer retreats, peer group sessions, fly fishing, horseback riding, and many other things you’ve never heard of
Retiring at 49
Using the cancer card at the right times and feeling guilty for using it
Understanding the true meaning of mind-body connection
Worrying about a future that may never come to fruition
Writing your will, your “do not resuscitate,” your last blog post, your letters to your people
Debating pink ribbons with non-metsers
Trusting your intuition about your body and how you feel
Quitting drinking wine, eating sugar, or anything you find decadent
Juicing a bag of rutabagas
Eating healthier than ever before
Avoiding putting poisoned and GMO foods in your body
Expressing yourself creatively
Wanting to live…

Is at anything on the above list a normal part of anyone’s everyday life? I hope not. Otherwise you might be a metser. Hey, a new normal comedy routine called “You Might Be a Metser If…” a la comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might Be a Redneck If…” I am a smartass, but seriously I was never normal. The term new normal doesn’t apply to me and probably makes you recoil too.

Happy Cancerversary
And say happy cancerversary to me. It’s four long, short years with stage four metastatic breast cancer to my bones, liver, and peritoneum. It’s been a long strange trip for sure. And, speaking of trips, do you know anyone doing LSD therapy with metastatic cancer patients? How normal is that question! Here’s to another year and thank you for reading and hanging out with me while I ranted on…I feel much better now. Off to take my apple cider vinegar, baking soda and Epsom salts bath before I rush off to my Taxol weekly chemotherapy treatment.

Oh, and the photo. That’s the handwriting of me falling asleep as the Benadryl takes effect prior to the Taxol chemo treatment. They wake me and ask my name and birthday, which hadn’t changed since I walked into the infusion center an hour prior, and lucky me all on a Saturday. My weekends are shit lately anyway, since my husband’s had a depression relapse. So normal. So very very normal.

Cancer and The Diffusion of Time

It’s improbable, but not impossible, that I’ll have enough time post diagnosis to continue my PhD in quantum mechanics. Or, even begin one for that matter. My academic career ended years ago, after embarking on a failed attempt at finding the funds to eat and live while pursuing a masters degree. I gave up my dream of becoming a full time writer who traveled extensively, to actually make a living wage in marketing during the rise of the tech economic hot air balloon.

Each day, the alarm did its best to beat me awake at 4:30 am and after downing my cup o’ 5 am Cuban coffee (cortadito) and hour at the gym, I ran my young self a quick shower and took a quick drive to the office. 15 minutes took me over the causeway connecting Miami Beach to the mainland to downtown and down Brickell Avenue. And I always arrived at my desk early.

D-Day and Chronic Lateness Syndrome
Since diagnosis day (D-Day), I’m persistently, consistently late. I find myself getting distracted by just about everything and even simple tasks seem to take me longer since D-Day. However, it’s something I’ve never quite gotten used regardless of how I try to trick myself. The use of anti-dilatory tactics such as setting clocks and watches 20 minutes fast do not work particularly well, if only to confuse everyone in my house.

Since D-Day, I’ve absorbed many lectures and books on quantum physics. Cancer artificially inflates the time space continuum, and my greatest discovery yet, although I still await word from the Nobel Prize committee (who also are chronically tardy), is the following equation:
time + cancer = tardiness
T + CN = D (where D is the diffusion of time)

Needless to say insomnia keeps me from getting to sleep until 4:30 am, not getting up to go to the gym before work as was once the daily habit. Due to an early and forced retirement, I look for ways to redefine my purpose in life. I’m a writer, so I’ve been able to circle back on an early career goal and I appreciate that immensely although it’s not ever going to earn a living. I’d be incessantly pissing off editors for my inability to meet deadlines. So my blog and notebooks replace professional gigs, although one day I do hope to publish a chapbook of poetry. Before I leave this conscious life that’s one goal I hope I’m not late to achieve.

A Very Important Date
Yet I’ve forgiven myself for my lack of timely arrivals and missed deadlines. Sometimes, poor health or overwhelming side effects, impede any hope st beating the clock. Mornings set the pace simply to get out of my own way and escape the house before sunset, or to even ready myself for the occasional visitor. Any of the first three tasks of the morning, after I ascertain how I feel physically and emotionally when I get up, effect how to measure out the minutes of elasticity in my schedule. Rolling out of bed, first shaking off the painful pins and needles of neuropathy, next reading and/ or writing while sitting on the porcelain throne combating turgid bowels and numb ass cheeks, while the hat trick amidst silent suffering, fumbling, squeezing and allowing my medications to take effect, thirdly, deciding whether or not shower or take a bath. Depending on my overall health, pain, and fatigue, I obsequiously send texts and make calls, if it’s necessary, to rearrange my schedule for later that day or another day altogether.

To cope with losing self worth and the care of others as I look less and less like a good friend and more and more like a Prima Dona, I use different stratagem. Aside from pure honesty, which I cannot imagine doesn’t sound like pure bullshit to some people, I pre-empt disappointing others with a written warning before accepting an invitation: “ATTENTION: chronic illness causes chronic lateness. Plans may change without any written warning or consent. Your mileage may vary”

I’m generally about 15-30 minutes late, even to see doctors – my palliative oncologist in addition to my oncologist. Although my palliative oncologist helps with most of my symptom management including the psychological impact of having an incurable disease knocking on my door day after day, she cannot help my chronic tardiness. Metastatic cancer is neither easy nor fun, and most people don’t believe I am as sick as I am. I refuse to let it dampen my optimism. Or, more truthfully, I try not to allow other’s opinions to bring me down. False Stoicism isn’t my strong suit and I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve.

Makeup to Make Up
Yet even if I’m home all day I still get up and get dressed and put on some makeup. Mascara and a curling iron become my personal therapeutic counselors. I really couldn’t care less if people say I don’t look like I have cancer – or if they don’t even believe I have stage 4 because I still have most of my hair. It’s my internal state that makes the most difference to my overall wellbeing.

Motivation and timeliness don’t always go hand in hand. I’m relatively optimistic and motivated by good intentions every day. It’s a new day, there’s light and life and love around me and I’ve achieved consciousness after awakening from my unconscious state of sleep for the gift of another day. For that I celebrate my life and I get dressed as nicely as I can. As ridiculous as it may sound, this act seems to help my ability to find positive motivation. Perhaps I may overdress and take too long in doing so; otherwise I may not back the Mini out of the garage or dare think about walking out of the front door. Those kinds of days cause a cascade of cancellations and schedule rearrangements. It would feel awful to the people who got bumped to throw away any part of their day and some of their well-meaning hope with a bad bet that they won’t sit idly waiting on my appearance at some future point. I feel really awful when I think I’ve wasted someone’s time, knowing to the cellular level how precious and few are every moment to the living.

Writing It Down
Sometimes just looking back at the week or month or year gives me hope and also perspective that I would have forgotten had I not kept up with writing. I recall numerous times with good friends, cancer peer groups, and fundraising events when I arrived on time. To the delight of others let me add, and to my humble embarrassment.

Writing too, chases the hours like a dog after a mechanical rabbit on a race track. Once the shoot opens I sprint through an idea for an essay or a poem until it’s complete. Usually this happens late at night or early in the morning. And with that, Simon my cat has come to let me know he’s finished puking on my new rug, and my friend is driving from Reno as I finish up editing this post. My husband still in the throes of chronic depression will not get out of bed until I do.

I must wrap up this lengthy discussion by saying this: if I’m late to my own funeral I won’t be a bit surprised, because cancer also succumbs to my late arrival. I’ve already beaten the artificial deadline of my initial diagnosis. In the meantime I’ll keep smiling, getting dressed to celebrate each new day, writing, and hoping you don’t mind the days when I just can’t seem to make it.

The Grammar Nazi Asks: what are the etymological roots of Cancer and Oncology ?

Oh, such a pathetic excuse for a liberal arts major, having been diagnosed with cancer over 3.5 years ago, I’ve not asked myself about the origins of the nouns associated with my disease, specifically the two super-topics of cancer and oncology. I vaguely recall reading them in the book, The Emperor of All Maladies . However, etymology did not garner my interest at that time, since we are, at heart, self interested, I sped up to the concepts most relative to my disease.

Answer: the Greeks gave birth to “cancer”
Karkinos, began, so the most agreed upon etymological story of the word, with Hippocrates about 35 BC. There’s many versions of the crab metaphor given the sluggish Ancient Greek press and of course we’d not know anything about the Library at Alexandria prior to its burning down taking with its embers, all of its words of wisdom. Forget about an Urban Greek BC dictionary to consult. Karkinos stuck as the common umbrella name for all the cancers at that time. And people with Karkinos who mostly presented at a very late stage were told to go back to their huts to die.

Tying up this etymological loose end, occurred about 47 AD by Celsus, a Greco-Roman philosopher, who translated the original Greek into the Latin for crab, or Cancer.

…and then came the etymology of “oncology.”
The word Oncology comes from the Greek as well: onkos as in a burden, or more specifically, a heavy mass. However, Galen, the Greek physician, applied the name onkos to all tumors around 200 AD and thus to the study or treatment of cancer, oncology. In the Greek theater, an onkos is the name for a tragic mask worn by an actor to identify a physical burden. Actors wear onkos to this day when acting in Greek plays. Tragedy? Perhaps…

Oncology recapitulates etymology. Or is it etymology recapitulates oncology… well either way, I now have a vague understanding of the vague understandings that historically exist, whether true or fictionalized.