Tag: cancerblog

The Gracie Foundation

Everyone needs a little pampering, a surprise gift of love, and no one moreso than a person with metastatic breast Cancer. The Gracie Foundation provides all that and a deep feeling of warm love in a priority mail box to its recipients. I received mine on Monday and not a moment too soon, either. You can nominate yourself or be  nominated by someone else to receive the amazingly beautiful and incredibly useful, high quality priducts to make breast cancer treatments just a little easier to bear. In my box: a large bottle, with pump, of body lotion; a scented soy candle; a cooling eye mask; a bath scrunchie; a gray knit cap; pink warm socks; an awesome mug for a big cup of tea; delicious scented soap; a pen and todo pad for chemo brain days; face cleansing wipes; and a book explaining the origins of the idea and the woman who founded this wellspring of love to carry on her legacy through giving even beyond her physical lifetime.

Gracie’s husband, who she married just a week before her fight with cancer ended, carries on her legacy and so he and volunteers ship off a little of Gracie’s beauty to others who need a bit of that special thing that made her a much loved woman of substantial giving.

Thank you, Gracie. Your spirit and soul fill my heart with beauty and joy, and I think that’s just what you had in mind. ♥️

One Fresh Hell, Hold the Tomatoes

Last week found me a visitor to a mental health facility, leaving each evening alone and downcast. The place just a few miles from our home, in the foothills south of the city, in an unremarkable single story building where I chose to allow supposed professional responsible human beings to rescue my ailing partner from the shackles of long term anxiety and depression. Leaving without him broke my heart and provided not a whit of relief as a few close friends hoped a “break” in the action might provide. His pained eyes looking upon my sadness as yet another judgement to come down upon me. Another multi-year term added to the #lifer tag around my neck, another blow to my remnants of hope.

All the while I possess the knowledge that I likely won’t live to see our future through to a plausibly happy conclusion. Even though this love 10 years in the making, its melodramatic script changed and the film itself in the can, spliced together and the story arc mangled under the cruel editor’s blade. The final reels go to the studio with my scenes cut and lying on the editing room floor.

I hoped for relief at the end of a long week spent alone over the course of treatment, yet no sparkle reappears in his eyes yet and his life not yet resuscitated. It takes the Zoloft about four weeks to help much. But I’m mostly alone these days. Yearning for my partner’s support and the kind of tender and caring love many of which many metastatic sisters write and blog about, I now look over at him, home in bed, and find one whose dark, inky emotions remain locked away inside his heart, like the stars behind clouds in a dark night sky. He lays there disengaged, thinking to himself about things that cause long bouts of sighing, and the simmering anger of so many men who find themselves bitten by such disorders.

Sometimes, my difficulty lies in hiding my visible outrage for being his care giver for over three years, of which this past 18 months one of the most heart wrenching trials of my life. My god – this and cancer, too? Fuck. What more can one do but look up and ask the ceiling over our bed long and winding questions about the treacherous nature of spiritual meaning, self-worth, and the relative value of a life. I then break from the sum of my existential questioning of cogito ergo… to find an email in my inbox from someone who reaches out to me to thank me. Grateful for my honest approach to my blog posts they type out a note that reminds me of why it’s worth it to know that it’s my responsibility as a wife to make a decision to help alleviate my partner’s suffering and try to revive him. To ask that his soul be returned his body.

He, too, wants only the same for me and indicates we may not stay together. For fuck’s sake — why now and you have got to be joking (the only sentences I can form without punching him in the face.) These trivialities came to him exactly how? And in what universe does he believe he lives in where this would even be okay by a substandard unintelligent alien culture of unfeeling assholes? And with that he passes wind and falls asleep and I’m left to wonder alone, naturally, what fresh hell might await me tomorrow?

Hopefully a new sandwich called “fresh hell” from the deli and no more than that.

Positively Connected

“Suffering is necessary until you realize it is unnecessary.” Eckhardt Tolle

Our personalities and sense of self do not stem from our opinions. Not even in our age of entitlement formed through the public ramblings of one single ego-driven tectonic plate moving dictatorial notion. Important, no doubt, to someone impressive to all their tweets and likes command. Of course, every human being beginning at birth has a perspective. Narrow though a newborn’s and pickled though an alcoholic’s – and no single moral standard claims any higher reaches than another. Despite what seems evident to me, there still exists a subsection of hostility driven people, trapped in a prison of anger. Their approach to the world carries an unwavering intent to cause suffering. Yet, we are all responsible for our own suffering as well as responsible for suffering in the world.

So how can this be possible?

I can choose to live as a source of conscious positivity. A great example to illustrate Richard Feynman’s excited and animated discussion of how rubber bands work. Feynman explains in this must watch video by the BBC, how atoms jiggle when excited by other atoms in some way. If I recall one example is a racketball hitting the court. The jiggle created by the contact of bouncing a ball hitting the boards, which ever so slightly increases the heat in the floor because the ball is moving faster than the floor. The measure of increase in temperature then becomes a proof of energy transfer at a molecular level. The floor’s atoms are disrupted by the ball hitting it and that is not even the point although voila, his excitement creates a curiosity in us and an excitement about learning. Similar to positive consciousness of living in the presence of now.

Pedestrian example…notice on days when you’re in a bad mood how others pick up on your negativity and they respond negatively to you in kind? Perhaps you’re driving more aggressively because you spilled coffee all over your car and now speeding over the roads towards a meeting 15 minutes delayed. I can simply arrive at the meeting a bit late, calmly and apologize with a smile. Certainly my reception may start cold, but my cheerfulness and tenacity inevitably override my unfortunate tardiness. My associates’ experience a graceful and present human being and eventually respond in a like manner. I guarantee someone else in your meeting went through a similar situation at some point in their lives. Maybe even that very day. They will remember only what you tell them to remember – meaning how you transfer your energy to the human beings with whom you’re engaged – positive or negative.

Perhaps on my drive I make a negative detour and make myself even later by running a stop sign and getting a ticket. Instead of ruminating and becoming angrier, instead of cursing my spouse or partner, the inanimate coffee, my boss, the other drivers…so much negative energy transference I create in a single drive into a small blip in the course of my life. Why?

Think about it this way perhaps. An opinion in your consciousness when applied to others sets the alarms off, erupting in arguments allowing negative energy to break into your positive space, like a thief. If I view others as equal – no matter their origins and opinions – with an open heart and mind and listen, we find ourselves in positive space with diverse rich colorful discussions, opening minds and knocking on doors rather than knocking them down.

This in 52 years? I earned the understanding of this concept and I’m not sure it’s something I even learned at all. In fact it’s more a feeling in the spiritual sense, than knowledge or a meaning in the mind. Here’s my confusing formula for you science types:

“Now” = what is, what’s gone and what’s going to be. It’s a triplicate paradox – ergo, appropriately, a “tripledox.”

To review how I got there and why that crazy logic train makes sense to me. Some days, my words refuse to connect to any discernible emotional or mind state – or anything I believe worth the investment of my time to sit down and pick up a pen and a piece of paper. As I wrote that last sentence, I realized that is the very worth my time, even if no one else ever reads what my thoughts became. And that’s not why I’m writing. In this moment when the past present and future dance together forever entangled in an infinite ring, what I write becomes very important. Not necessarily to you the reader. (If it does, how Cool is that? We connected.) I write for my physical, spiritual, and mental health.

My connection of mind to pen and paper help me plough through the work I must do to live. And it’s all work right now. I wish I could say differently. But this as all things must pass. Like a fart. Or a tailgating asshole. Or depression. Or bad weather.

And with that, I loathe waking up sometimes. You mean…Princess Positive? Miss Merrymaker? Lady Laughsalot? Moi?

Even hypocritical me. I get so angry I just want to fall off the flat earth and pound hard on the door of the universe – I bet Monty Hall answers and asks me about which door I choose. I say “all three” because you can do what you want in alternate dimensions. Or just because I want to see silver taffeta curtains opening like birthday gifts in my next reality tunnel where I win lunch with Douglas Adams, Dick Feynman, along a three piece lounge set from mid-century modern Michigan circa 1950. Did I digress? Yup. Sorry. And no the women I’d want to lunch with us remain with us. Diverse dream meals-r-us.

In the past 48 hours…

I’ve thrown up, thrown upset crying fits, tossed annoyed looks at The C. Twisted myself emotionally, felt alone, experienced the panic of financially worry about my healthcare, and I can’t get any good deli anywhere in San Jose. But this, too, shall pass. I realize I am where I am because I must be here. And there’s no way to go it alone given the stress of a change of residence and my enemy, thy name is stress. See, I’m dealing with this fucking liver metastasis at the moment. My veins and arteries have no blood count, and my bones work overtime at night so I can’t sleep. I have no appetite, no energy. No visitors. No shit. Lost 25 lbs. not a recommended diet, kids. I’ve had a bad week. It’s hard saying goodbye to everyone and everything all the time. But I can’t linger in this space much longer.

Open all three doors, or Monty gets it – and I’m not in the mood to make a deal. But I will say with the saccharine sweetness of a diabetic candy and the artifice of the broiled roast chicken brown skin from a tanning bed light, you’ll want to go plant wild flowers and kiss your loved ones all on the forehead, and hug your annoyed cat. Or slobbering dog, if your so inclined.

P.S. Another tale of opinions pissing on the heads of others: It would have been my mother’s birthday on the 31st. I wasn’t given any chance at closure because my aunt and brother decided I didn’t get to say goodbye to Elaine Rothman Kaminsky Tramonte. So laughs on them, she’s not gone to me. She’s around telling me I look fine stop worrying, wiping my face with a wet index finger (eww), hugging me, telling me how I’m her beautiful girl. How proud she is of me. And for all the shit our lives dumped in our laps, she was my mother. She loves me. I’m her first born, her daughter. Because they didn’t want me to upset her. How do you keep a child away from a parent, even as she aged I was still her angel, her shayna maydelah, Esther Williams, “mouth”, and the other 100 nick names she bestowed upon me – and she was my mammelah, mah, mom, mommie, my mom.

Flawed. Forever part of me. Forget? Never.

It is what it is, huh?

If “it is what it is,” why is it so the collateral damage of metastatic cancer so fucking hard?

Why is it okay to break promises to me?

Why is it so painful to look at the shattering of once solid love?

Why is it okay for me to take handfuls of pills but it’s not okay for you to take one?

Why did I think it was a good idea to give away all my strength?

Why did it fail me to believe when it came down to it?

Why is it you can’t put your paranoia away for one day and help me live?

Why is it impossible to find my fight today?

Why is it okay for my needs not to matter?

How is it possible for you to listen silently while you hear me cry?

Why was it okay for me to be a day late to get the assist I needed to save my life?

Why is it okay for a copayment for chemotherapy to be greater than an entire months disability check?

Why is it okay to see that my life is slipping away?

It isn’t what my it is.

Why isn’t loyalty, isn’t love, isn’t commitment, isn’t kindness, and isn’t believing in the human spirit – why aren’t these its the “it is what it is?” It is what “it is is always negative.” Why?

Fuck it.

Whatever it is.

Eventide

Riding passenger side snapping right,
I’m down in front stealing long exposures.
From the back seat our youth sits
Mocking us with instant polaroids.
Destroyed pictures of minutes and memory
Precious and precarious slip a stone
At once here and at once gone.
Right under the driver breaks hard and higher
Up another mile, silently stealing all we pass.
As if it meant nothing, had no value.
Yet we never stop to salute the flowers –
All wilds and yellows and purples.
The foothills’ shoulders grow peonies
Upon sunshine golden with military ranks.

How jagged time?
We spend ours climbing again as
Eventide approaches us.
Stealing the light
Squinting and teasing Every photographer’s eye.
The lens escapes the fight as fists fly
Above us rung the first punch
Headliners: the over-real versus the unbelievable.
Then we drop down tearing around
The Summit dragging the day with us.
With us flat then right over on the side.
Buckshot sprays whitetail from
Underneath the wheels,
My skin and bones chill fast underneath
Blankets just a quarter mile thin –
Count the microclimates in a 14 mile exposure.
My imagined assignment, anyway.

Inertia now driving our ascension
Finally dousing my focus.
Yet I am pacified by
Deep coastal royal blue velvet,
And by the courtly cape
Of dense silver fog.
Trees, reach in and take my attention
Lost in the sky and yet at home.
Away with the little brick foxes
Already started by the drooling hounds,
Running in distant golden broken lines
Shrinking to a pointed index
Finger of bent redwood lumber.
Penciled between the knotted trees
Escaping our eyes
They write letters to us
To one another, to anyone.
I imagine the trees alone love themselves.
Writing in dead languages those
Modern towers of Babylon
Without oral tradition
No monks or followers to take dictation
The mighty ones tie rings around
Paper and papyrus of their own making.
They, like me, can write their own stories.

Distant deamons dance to the music of the eventide,
Whose eardrums thump and pop from slight descents.
Mercies clear the stares and the macabre glances.
And up ahead the night hides just around
The voluptuous Earth’s curves.
Yet she shakes off the road upon her hip
Langushing and lounging
Laughing at all the forsaken highways.

You snap me awake.
My hypnotic state undone
By our quick duel and I, only me –
I roll one window down
With enough sense to know
The party orange of evening presents
A moment for exposure
Showing the night undone
By the simplest flash
As we find a space and stall the motor,
King and queen of the hills
Announced by snare drums and trumpets.
Goodbye, twisted bruised skin of eventide.
Eventide, goodbye.

And now, Ms. Cancer and Mr. Depression

How does one learn to reason with depression? I’d like to share with you a story about a confused partner who, after the passing of her arbitrary three-year deadline, falls into the rabbit hole and finds herself staring at a 40-car pile up and the unenviable clean up of the bloody aftermath. She unreasonably and unfortunately becomes inconsolable with wave after wave of false accusations hurled from across a house she lives in with this depressed man who she no longer knows, or even knows what she feels for him anymore.

Don’t take the bait. Walk away. Leave. For an hour, a week, or…

If it were only that easy. You know who you are – partners of the dysfunctional. But add a little metastatic cancer to the mix…my shoulders are killing me under the weight of it all. I’m sorry if I come across as confusing, but this whole crazy dysthymic depression without an end in sight is confusing.

I’ve finally helped him to treatment. We, well more like he, vomited the angry bitter disgust of a man who simply wanted to raise his two sons across a 2.5 hour session of exhausting couples counseling with my psychologist. She, by the way had breast cancer, can provide him with a helpful view from within should he inquire. He spilled tears and guts for 95% of the session, at the end of which I said he may be better off getting a bit of help for himself or I didn’t feel we’d make the progress we’d hoped for. He immediately went on the defense and the doctor came to mine and remarked, can’t you see she’s very concerned and wants to reconvene when you’ve gotten through a bit of your own healing? He could not disagree.

I’ve read countless books on the topic. NAMI.org is a web site full of great information for you as a depressive’s care giver. All very helpful.

Here’s a few titles available on Amazon and through kindle to keep the costs down:

Talking to Depression: Simple Ways To Connect When Someone In Your Life Is Depressed https://www.amazon.com/dp/B002DYMB1M/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_OPHwAbK3Z6EC

Depression Fallout: The Impact of Depression on Couples and What You Can Do to Preserve the Bond https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0012GTZBG/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_ZQHwAbH1P5EGN

When Depression Hurts Your Relationship: How to Regain Intimacy and Reconnect with Your Partner When You’re Depressed https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HZ9SA92/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_tRHwAb7H1451X

When Someone You Love is Depressed https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H0IGJIQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_TRHwAbDTCFKWT

I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000FC0Q0C/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_m3HwAbA93R7H9

The confusing days in the life….

When he asked me what time it was I was holding a stack of books and I said that it’s not too late just a second to look at my watch and this was what caused tonight’s major smack down. He’s called me a bitch for two days, running tests to see how I’m going to react to his nasty new nomenclature for me, similar to a teenager cursing in front of his parents. Yet I embarrassed him.

Apparently I’m the one who needs hospitalization and help and that he, “knows what’s going on here.” I ruin everything night after night with my “selfish shit” and do my own thing. My Etsy online shop and writing are more important to me than having a good relationship with him. Yet, it’s all I can do to keep from losing my own mind to the loneliness and isolation of cancer.

I’m somehow playing a game with him and somehow it’s my fault; apparently I’m the root cause of his problems. I tell him that nearly every night he’s laid here leaving me alone and now he’s saying that’s not true that I’m the one who has ignored him. A new critique appears in the repertoire: I’m an Intellectual bully and he does not want to be a victim anymore. Too embarrassed to even suggest anything resembling sex to him anymore, he’s barked back, “the only thing you’re even interested in is sex.”

No, I’m interested in happiness and I love him enough to stay. He also knows I’ve not the physical or financial resources to leave. There’s days when his light comes on and his blue eyes sparkle and shine like two stars in the sky. Come on you, just wake up and shine with me for a little while and let’s shut this nightmare down. It’s never very much about sex, is it. Love in all its permutations requires a cooperation of high and low and mid range notes all beating in time to the same heart. Does cancer extract my heart from my body for study by science and remain in a clear beaker on a dusty shelf behind an outdated computer book from 1999? No, not this time.

He said he wants me here and he loves me, but answers in vagaries when I ask for examples or specifics. As he retorts, more vague statements such as how I always criticize him. I never say anything positive. All he does is help me but I do not let him help me. Each and every time I ask for his help he’s got more important things to do, ignores me, or just sleeps the day away. My very favorite tactical maneuver is to keep me quiet by calling me a nag. I “nag nag nag all the time.” He said he gave himself up and he made that mistake because he thought it was the right thing to do for me. However it cannot possibly be true since I’m not worth it. At least not according to the oxymoronic verbal diarrhea spewing at me night and day.

I ask him what he means by anything he says, yet he won’t tell me. He said he misses himself more then I can ever miss him. This is a wonder because I’ve been mourning him for over three years. I am being crushed under the weight of his depression. My loneliness and frustration are at an all time high. He is starting to tell me how he can’t get anything from me, I have nothing he wants or anything that is valuable to gain from me. He gives, all he does is give and I cannot give anything worthwhile to the relationship so why don’t I just stop fucking up a good thing and just shut up?

Okay.

Follow the Queen

My room unlatched
Releasing shirts, slacks
To hungry closets for
New black suits.
Drawers devoid, empty,
Open for guides and
Maps. A single dirty window
Opens to a brick wall.
My memory of the word
“Defenestration” fell out.
My mouth shares the doubt
Of an incomplete education.
Underneath paper thin sheets
Uncover my form asleep dreaming,
Murmuring bird breeds.
I fly into the diaspora.
Street artisans took to the
Deep sea once, yet to which land?

I hold the receiver and
Wish for a revolver.
Legal language defense
Foreign escapes
Hold up in court.
Unknown room numbers
In a delicious series of
Chambers marked 12, 31
Maybe 2004.
Remembering a stone cold six story
Buddha in a wide open gin palace.
Cigars and molten cherries
Jubilee. Bananas foster
Charles Foster Kane,
His full name from nothing.
Mother’s greasy brunch pumpkin
Markets and street tchotchkes.
Snow globes from America where
Going down South the snow
Attracts curious tourists.
Temporary neighbors
Angry without rose beds,
Lawnmowers without preteens.
I learned the names of
Chateaux. Bordeaux, Chablis
Pure sunshine Chardonnay.
Tastevin and Caskets
Down in the catacombs
The same town underground.

Rise up and run off
Spilling me like syrup
On pancake embankments.
A cooing stewed pigeon
On an expired warranty the
Black dial telephones,
Hissing tube televisions.
Anonymous but you only
Would send such indifferent
Cheap bouquets of sprayed
Carnations and baby’s breath.
Such sorry little pimples
Those flowers, like calling
Cards for bill collectors.
Or foreign exchanges between
Currencies for emergencies.
Ladies wearing smart suits
Tahitian pearl chokers
Rhinestone bangle bracelets
Bengal tiger-print hot pants.
A real mistress
Ends in a whisper
Her knowledge sits stuck
In the back of a cab.
Like all irrelevant souvenirs.
Bees swarm from the 300 year oak
Guarding the fire department.
Emptying from the hive
Growling as one great
Carpet to cover the daylight yellow
Moist and musky bungalow.
Shotgun shacks, powder kegs open
Their queen, a patron saint
Leaves her scent, thinning the
Hive of the dullards,
The abused and the confused.
One last time, dressed
For success the top opening
For California mornings air.
I sneak out the back and press on,
Press on emerging into traffic.

Lessons from the Present

In my darkest hours collapsing under the weight of my own perceived adversity, I wonder how to find the energy to bring happiness to myself and others while in this life. One relatively recent shift that’s come via studying the practice of presence and living in the “now.” I search for strength from within myself, hoping to find an ore of clarity in a vast cave of stone and archeological discovery. To focus on the present seems implausible on a dry infertile landscape littered with anxiety about my past actions or insidious worry about events or emotional fallout that may never transpire in any of the potential future scenarios that lay stretched out before me.

Whew. Yet all these realizations happen despite the complexity of my given task at hand. An unexpected benefit of my focus in the now: I’m defocussing away from the heaviness, the sadness, the darkness of life with metastatic cancer, throwing away and cross shredding my membership card to Club Cancer. I learn to find clarity here where the present moment provides me with strength cooking at the stove or sitting behind the wheel of my car. Instead of the usual sigh at a routine task, I smile and do what I used to perceive as mundane chores with flawless efficiency and with joy.

The results become a happier self and a much better outcome. Even a moment of silence can bring about deeper meaning in these everyday tasks. The boring becomes the beautiful, the Wonderbread(TM) becomes the wedding cake. Finding beauty in everything I take into my senses for example while stopped at a traffic light on a peaceful Sunday evening. A routine drive becomes magical, sparkling with blue, red, green, purple, pink, gold, and white lights and holiday decorations on houses and buildings. Or while preparing soup from scratch, an activity that certainly brings the past into the present through kitchen skills learned over a lifetime to create a fresh bowl of soul-warming bisque.

The increased value of the ingredient of my presence requires relatively zero investment. It’s really a divestiture of an investment of negativity, rumination, hostility, or even aesthetic snobbery. Instead of focusing on getting to the destination, the journey instead uplifts my heart with more joy than I expect; I float above the paved roads just for a while with the ease of an untethered spirit. Similarly, if I become present in a moment with my pet I find happiness and peace through a relationship to the natural world and with this animal. He consciously plays with me, which sets a good example for me to follow.

Strength, too, I realized comes from human courage exhibited through people’s stories. Our personal narratives bring us to the present with our past experiences. Everyone’s present self must therefore contain and be informed by our past and none are more important or less fortunate than any others – it’s simply a matter of scale and influence: from a great leader of human kind to a single person overcoming a physical handicap.

Ridiculously, compared to how much work I produced in the 11-hour days of my career, I find it difficult some days to write and post a blog piece. My comparably easy tasks sometimes require more strength than I can illicit from my tired and chemically-thrashed body. If I live in my past or concern myself with the future of what might happen I’d never write a word. In other words if I don’t exist in the present, I only focus on the perceived value of the words I write. How insane to think I know the worth to any reader of my discourse? If my expenditure of energy brings any return on investment it must only be for the present situation of this moment for me and in that same line of reasoning, for you in reading my words.

Perhaps my essays or poetry bring you a smile. Maybe they give you a bit more strength in knowing you’re not crazy or you’re not the only one who feels the way you do. I believe then in this moment, in the here and now where our individual thinking intersects, we become friends. Whether you’re a new friend or a friend come to read a while for a visit, I’m so glad you came to share your presence with me – I treasure your gift.

Some might arrive as a short respite from of a world severed from it’s once well mapped out future, now thrust into the cancer culture where we’ve a lot to share with each other. Here, either a love giver to one with a disease or a cancer survivor, we can walk hand and hand. We step to a rhythm of head nods of recognition as we see of ourselves in one another like mirrors. Our circle contains everyone who continues to prove that we can live on as a reluctant card carrying member of Club Cancer. Including those who love us.

And to those who pop in for a visit without your identification card – newsflash – you don’t need a card. We welcome your visits and love and time, so stop by often. Please, just don’t remark when you hear one if us has cancer, “well you could get hit by a bus.” We throw people out for saying ignorant, insulting crap or regaling us with some vaguely fictional cancer story about your aunt’s neighbor’s ex boyfriends third cousin’s adopted brother. Stories couched in empathy but only meant to alleviate your own guilt and the inability to not make another’s pain about yourself.

I welcome anyone who cares enough to visit: now is always the best time.

Florida, State Your Name

You carry our secrets whispered into cardboard boxes tied tight with candycane twine
(That kind you find in old-time kosher bakeries.)
Tall cakes topped with buttercream flowers in new-fatigue green and suburban-Mustang blue whose
Stemless petals rise above yellow spongey layers with strawberries.
Pure as curbside snow. Pure as little girls with pinch pink cheeks.
Too early for my birthday the trail of a mistake runs upstairs from cheap paper doilies.
Pin striped suit coat and sea glass blue shirttails waving gooodbye, or hello,
(I never knew the difference.)
My hair twisted into a gilded fist as you push my resistance down,
Down into the drowned warped boards.
Raising my right hand, I swear you found a pushover:
A raggedy doll tape and bubble gum, of bare burlap, plaid, and buttons, of red yarn
Covering my torn skin where I stitch myself up and over
(And over to hold myself in again.)
A stray calico cat sits in the window right above your shoulder, startled by your loud heart.
I can still hear you slapping your thigh and then,
Distant laughter cries at your day-old jokes jokes and overtold stories.
Your hysterical, foul, scorn defers a look at me.
I hated you for that minute, then carrying on again I forget you already told me.

My face looks tired, uncooked, undone.
While white hot light sheds the palmetto scrub
Covering the non-natives invading our country- bright boisterously green parrots.
Which fly in on an uncommon flight schedule,
Catching a torrent of wind the turkey vultures wind into a tornado
Turning up higher and faster into the late afternoon rain.
Here, every shower comes in on time right at four.
Bursting open ladies with umbrellas, with daisy dresses, tulip capris, white rose tanks,
Waltzing by the front porch screen doors squeaking,
Slippery dimpled thighs sing together,
All sweet, easy, glide by leaving their perfume behind.
Then zipped into black patent leather hand bags powders, compacts,
Glossy rippled heat waves us in on a 45 degree right angle sun ray.
Show up the hidden mildewed sinews of ductwork,
And the hum of air conditioners masking our words.
Slowly dripping outside busy windows pelted by huge mosquitoes,
Or rain?
(Probably rain cries outside)
Only two minutes, like soft boiled eggs on timers,
Now done cooking. Her eyelashes, false
Newly bred widows sit with spidery eyes,
Single fingers silently making reservations for you.
They reapply the glue, so unkind, that damned humidity.

Sloop John B. aka Let Me Go Home

So hoist up the John B’s sail
See how the main sail sets
Call for the Captain ashore
Let me go home, let me go home
I want to go home
Well I feel so broke up
I want to go home
Hoist up the John-b sail.
See how the main sail sets,

I groan as I depart outrunning the Smurf blue scrubs-clad wheelchair engineer who, I’m totally convinced, wants only to embarrass me with one last spin round the rotunda of Stanford’s gynormous older hospital (a new one is on the way, thankfully). Leaving behind me a dishearteningly BORING stay in Stanford’s F-wing. Wow, ever so apropos of the oncology floor, the F-uck it wing, the F-ucking cancer wing. Let me never ever go into a hospital again.

Dehumanized. Depersonalized. Muted. Turned into a brainless pajama bag of pain and shit. Exasperated, exhausted annoyed. Telling the same boring story of how I arrived, my trip through the ER, the amount of fluid siphoned out of my abdomen, whether or not I went poopy in the toilet, as well as my level of discomfort. All told to a supporting cast in this theater of the absurd. All except for my angel in uniform, Stacey, who actually sees me as human and spending more than one shift with me, even requesting to take my bed at assignment time. We talked about everything and nothing, perfumes, children, cancer, other nurses, hospital stories. Stacey stopped by when she wasn’t obligated to do so, and see how I was feeling, to let me know she’d ordered the Flower Bomb perfume I sprayed on her wrists a few days earlier to make sure she’d like it enough to plunk down hard earned cash for it. Like a friend might, she came by my room when she’d heard my ticket outta there had been stamped, to say goodbye. Stacey remained my friend in the hospital for six boring shifts and her big smile, bounty of hair and breasts, and her need to talk to someone who could just ask questions and listen to her.

Basically, and aside from Stacey, at any given time, one might become confused permanently by a troupe of medical professionals, including:

Two doctors, one of whom visited me for exactly three minutes and accidentally ran into me during one of four daily 30 minute cross hospital walks,
Seven distinct nurses
Three nurse practitioners
Two social workers
One psychologist
One spiritual leader of the Rabbinical kind

The same questions day in day out, night after sleepless night…your level of pain, 0-10, 10 being the highest. Where? Which pain? It’s all over and all different. I learned to pantomime and point to my pain, showing anyone who buys a ticket to my freak show behind the curtain. No one likes to stay overnight in a hospital let alone six fabulous nights at the Palo Alto Stanford Hospital Resort and Country Club. Where sleep comes only to those who sleep with the fish, there’s no relationship between yourself and a concept called privacy.

I’m not contagious, therefore my roommates become a series of Spanish speaking, translator required, entire family toting, new treatment guinea pigs under tight scrutiny from the nurses who all ignore me. I’m not part of the program. And but the way why the translators who clearly were trained in translation skills raise their voices with each translated word to the supposed Spanish only speaking individual in the next bed in the room, is beyond my comprehension. I hear both of the roommates, between whom I get one 36 hour reprieve from holding my farts due to close proximity of their family and our shared bathroom.

You want to define understatement? My visible excitement level peaking higher than my pain level for the first time in weeks as I jumped at the first chance to “give up” my bed and an opportunity manage my symptoms at home until my next procedure. Emphatically and resoundingly, please please please let me go home – like The Beach Boys song. For the record, the break in self care and trying to pull my partner out of bed (generally so I could try it out alone for a few hours to recuperate) I needed more than I realized. I fully enjoyed people focused on all of my physical needs for a little while. Pathetic, right?

Maybe so, but I’m home. I got home a week ago yesterday. Simon, my cat-son, truly gave me the what for when I got in, ignoring me at first, but unable to help his nose, which had a mind of its own, from sniffing down my belongings and then coming over to sniff me. Persuaded by sight and scent he crawled into my lap and purred and I rubbed by now-damp eyes in his soft brown fur, and said, Mommy’s home, baby, mommy’s home.

Now that’s pathetic.