Monday, September 26, 2011

I Am A Shit Ton More Honest Than The Next Person

If I’m being honest, really truly honest, then I’m pissed off and angry. The kind of angry where I read something on facebook that goes something like, “Consider your allegiances and God will change you!” and it’s some note about some guy who I’m sure is a lovely person writing about how he’s had an amazing transformative weekend because he’s chosen to seek God in ALL areas of his life, and it’s come about because he had an epiphany about (simplifying here, but because) he learned to pray for other people and God changed his life.

And I’m like…really? Honestly and truly? What are you, 22? (He might very well be, I don’t even know him directly, an acquaintance of mine was commenting on his link and it showed up in my new facebook profile, blah blah blah.)


Please, come talk to me after you’ve spent decades spending most of your prayer life praying for other people and noting how God moves speedily in answering your prayers for other people, but at a glacial pace in working in your own life. Come talk to me when you’ve spent decades talking to a God who rarely talks back to you, after you’ve spent decades listening for a single word from Him, only to be met with a thundering silence 99.9 percent of the time.

Come talk to me when your prayer life goes like this, “Fuck you, God, and Your plan for my life. Your plan sucks. I violently disagree with it. Go blow.”

Oh, I’m sorry. Was that too disrespectful? Too upsetting for your Virgin Christian ears? Was your first response, “Well of COURSE God’s not gonna answer you if that’s how you talk to Him.”

Oh, little one. Oh, dear dear dear hypothetical little one.

I don’t mean to burst anyone’s Happy Chipper Christian Bubble, but the dirty little secret of the Christian life is that YOU CAN TALK TO GOD HOWEVER YOU WANT TO, AND IT’S NOT GOING TO AFFECT HOW HE DEALS WITH YOU.

I have spent years being obedient and respectful. I have spent years being filthy and disrespectful. Guess what? I can be however I want to be in front of God my Savior, and He’s going to treat me exactly the same way. Because what He wants from me AND YOU more than anything else is to being fucking HONEST with Him.

If you can’t be fucking honest with God, who the FUCK do you think you’ll be honest with?

How I act does not change how God acts toward me. Wrap your Newbie Christian brain around that one.

Here, I’ll save you a trip. God loves you no matter what you say to him, and it’s only after you realize His massive massive love for you that you will be so consumed with guilt with your irreverence and disrespectfulness towards Him that you will immediately repent of your disrespectful ways, beg for forgiveness, and then be a Happy Chipper Little Christian until the next time you get pissed.

I’m so bummed there’s only one of me out here that’s got the balls to say that. Ah well.

The thing is, my current anger is actually NOT because of my dad’s cancer. I know it’s oh so tempting to draw an easy parallel to that. If it was a movie, it would be that. In fact, I know a bunch of you are sitting at the computer shaking your heads, thinking, “she’s in denial.”

But life is so much more messier, and my current anger is much more self centered. Dad’s doing okay, far as I know.

And whatever I’m going through in my own Amyland Bubble certainly can’t compare with my Dad’s cancer so quickly fuck me gently with a Heathers chainsaw and my self absorbed anger over stupid meaningless shit like a busted internet router (so I’m sitting on the floor, tethered to a wall) and silly producers who don’t understand Excel, and the petty envy over dear friends who see God moving in blatantly obvious ways in their lives and the growing inability to sleep at night, which I’m pretty sure is a psychic connection with my dad, since HE’S not sleeping well at night, either.

I love sleep. I love sleep better than living. I never had issues sleeping until Dad’s cancer. Oh, yes, armchair shrinks, draw your obvious dime-store conclusions. You suck as much as God does. He knows I don’t like Him right now. He’s actually pleased that I’m honest about it. I’m probably more honest than you in that regard, so that’s gotta be good for an upgrade to Business Class on the plane trip to heaven, whenever that shows up.

Let’s look at pictures of PUPPIES!

I tried mightily to get shots of all three dogs at the Beagle House last week, and this was the best I could do.

Smiling Bella on the left, new dog Babs in the middle, and Bonnie sleeping in an apple box on the right.

Babs is a cocker spaniel, and I grew up with cocker spaniels, so I was immediately in love.

Babs is 12 years old, and as energetic as any puppy I’ve ever seen. She’s also the smallest cocker spaniel I’ve ever seen, half the size of the cockers I grew up with, a bonsai tree version of a cocker spaniel, and I found myself staring at her tiny face that fit in the palm of my hand. She wasn’t comfortable being picked up, which made me sad, because all I wanted to do was scoop her up and snort her up my nose like cocker spaniel cocaine. But she would sit by my feet and whine when she thought I wasn’t petting her enough, so believe me, she had it great.

Bella has had her face warts taken off, but regardless, she’s still the only dog I’ve ever known that actually smiles. And I tried mightily to get photographic proof of it:

This is not a smile:

THIS is almost there:

THIS is a smile.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Open Windows

I'm going back to the Beagle House starting tomorrow for another round with Bella (she got the growths on her face taken off!), Bonnie and new addition Babs, the liveliest 13 year old cocker spaniel I've ever seen. She's f'ing adorable, people. Just wait until I get pictures of them.

And when I was catching up with the human owner, and she was asking how things were, I found myself telling her about Great Stoic Wonder's Stage 4 cancer diagnosis. The human owner started crying. I was dry-eyed. It was a little weird.

When I was sending out the email to my friends about the Cancer Earthquake, I asked them not to ask me about it in person, as I feared I would lose it and break down. But as soon as I hit send, it was like a window opened, and I found myself able to talk about it in person. No tears.

It's like I leapfrogged over the other four stages of grief and landed directly on Acceptance, and now that I'm here, there doesn't seem to be much point in going backwards to, like, the Bargaining stage. Which I guess makes sense. One of the things that everyone knows about me is that above everything else, I am uber productive. Which means I can't sit on the couch and cry for days. That's not productive. I'm not even suppressing the depression. It's just not there. It's more of a melancholy thing tickling at the back of my brain.

Perhaps my Twin Superpowers of Denial and Distraction are coming into play here. Perhaps it's a cold analysis of I'm Not The One With Cancer, And Being Depressed About It Isn't Going To Help My Dad At All So Might As Well Get On With Living Life.

But I haven't gotten mad at God. I haven't shaken my fist angrily, I haven't asked Him why this is happening. I guess I know better than that. Or possibly because I know He's not gonna answer me, so asking Him why wouldn't be productive. I still pray every day. I still pray for a miracle and ask that Dad miraculously gets into remission somehow.

This Cancer Earthquake hasn't shaken my faith. I can list a dozen people who've made it through much much worse circumstances. If my one friend can survive flying home to be by her mom's side in her final moments, only to have her dad meet her as she walked off the plane and take her home to pick out what her mom would be wearing in her coffin because the mom was already gone, I can make it through this. (That story ripped my guts out.)

This is our road to walk down. Everyone is going to die of something someday. My dad just happens to know what his order is. And, since I got most of my genetic quirks from him (doctors told him he was slightly anemic. I could've told him that, since I'm slightly anemic, and my blood didn't come up with that all on its own) it's probably what's going to take me out much much later down the road. I'll be going through my own colonoscopy, once I figure out if the Can't Deny Pre-Existing Conditions part of Obamacare is sticking or not.

Sandra Bullock's mom died of colon cancer, and Sandra tells a pretty funny story about how Sandra went through a colonoscopy and was so stoned from the drugs that she went shopping and bought ridiculous stuff. Maybe I'll do that. It may not be productive, but it would be funny. Which is productive in its own way, I suppose.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Earthquakes, Part 2

So, where were we?

Oh, that’s right, thank you, Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius. We were about ten steps of the canyon ledge and still thinking there was solid ground beneath us.

But let’s back up a bit. Let’s put Wile E. Coyote back on the cliff.

That would be July 26th, 2011.

That was the day my sister Agatha and I got the email from My Mother The Phone Harpy Whom I Love Very Very Much about the results of my Dad, The Great Stoic Wonder’s routine colonoscopy.

I knew the colonoscopy was happening, I talk to my parents every week, we knew it was happening, it was routine. My family is notorious for coming from a good genetic stock. We rarely get sick, we don’t get long term diseases, we rarely break bones (the last one was sister Agatha in high school, some twenty years ago.) We don’t get divorces, we don’t have miscarriages. Yeah, my mother the Phone Harpy had an issue with her vocal chords that meant she couldn’t sing on key, but frankly, she couldn’t sing on key anyway, so this just meant she had to tone down the volume (she would tell you this herself.) No big deal.

I am the last person in my line (if you’re not counting the cousins under 10) to not have any cavities (it’s really simple, people, just floss. I swear, it works.) We don’t even get food poisoning, unless it’s pesto, pine nuts, or leftover crab (I was watching the documentary “Waiting For Superman” that day. That was a bad bad bad day.)

The email of July 26th, 2011 from My Mother The Phone Harpy Whom I Love Very Very Much said that the my father, The Great Stoic Wonder’s routine colonoscopy turned up a cancerous lesion, and they had scheduled surgery to remove the part of the colon that contained the lesion on August 1, 2011. It certainly seemed scary, and prayers were offered up, but I remembered that my father, the Great Stoic Wonder, had had various skin lesions removed in the past, the result of playing golf in the sun for half your life. And I guess my brain chalked up the colon lesion up to those tiny no big deal skin cancer lesions. We had no reason to think any different.

August 1, 2011 – While I turn in my Golden Gecko Gymnast outline, my father has 8 to 12 inches of his colon removed. Phone Harpy Whom I Love Very Very Much calls to say that while they were mucking around in my Dad’s intestines, they saw something else to give them pause, more information later. Um…. Okay.

(Wile E. Coyote has just started his dash off the cliff, yet still is upright on faith alone.)

August 4th, 2011 – My Dad is released from the hospital. I didn’t think they would call today, which is why I’m trying to munch a microwaved Smart Ones chicken and cheese quesadilla while they give me the news that they found cancer in eight of the surrounding eighteen lymph nodes. They’re scheduling a PET scan for August 25th, results to be discussed August 29th. Today is also Sister Agatha’s birthday, and the day ends with the email from the Creative Exec that the Golden Gecko Gymnast movie is on hold.

August 8th, 2011 – I get the email that the Golden Gecko Gymnast movie is officially dead. However, my father the Great Stoic Wonder is still alive, and that’s more important in the grand scheme of things.

(Wile E. Coyote is still running his heart out, he can even see the other cliff waiting for him on the other side)

August 15th, 2011 – I get a postcard in the mail from Pastor Home Church. He is indeed the pastor of my home church back in Alabama, the church that My Mother The Phone Harpy Whom I Love Very Very Much faithfully attends, and the church that my father the Great Stoic Wonder attends on Christmas and Easter. On the postcard, Pastor Home Church says, “I just heard about your dad’s diagnosis with cancer,” For some reason, I was able to happily bop along in my Denial Bubble That Has Served Me Faithfully For So Long In So Many Ways, so that when I read this orange postcard (I’m sure the mailman also sends his regrets, since he can see it too) it finally hits me that this is real. Uh… okay. My Dad has cancer. Um… okay. But there’s no reason to panic yet, right? Right?

(Wile E. Coyote is gradually realizing that the ground may have left him.)

August 25th, 2011 – Dad goes in for his PET scan, which will illuminate how far the cancer has spread, if at all. When I talk to him on the phone, he sounds fine, if somewhat subdued. He’s his usual stoic self, taking potshots at the Phone Harpy and her hoarding I-Can’t-Throw-Anything-Away-Including-These-Three-Pictures-Of-A-Mountain-In-Europe-That-I-Forgot-To-Label-When-I-Took-The-Picture-30-to-40-Years-Ago ways, which have been threatening for decades to consume our entire house. Business as usual.

August 29th, 2011 – Sister Agatha and I get an email about the results of the PET scan. If it’s bad news, we get it via email, because the electronic buffer is safer. But Phone Harpy Mommy hasn’t cc-ed the right email address for sister Agatha, so I print out the email and run out of my office on the Unnamed Studio Lot, but there is no good private place to talk, so I land on a bench somewhere between the casting building and the costume museum, and trams of tourists are passing by as tears are streaming down my face as I tell my sister on the cell phone that our father has Stage IV colon cancer.

(And Wile E. Coyote begins his freefall.)

The cancer, which showed no outward symptoms, has spread to his liver and around the aorta. He’s scheduled to have a central port put in on August 31st, with chemotherapy to start September 7th.

August 30th, 2011 – I call in sick. My face is swollen from crying, my eyelids are the size of Vienna sausages, and I only leave the house to shop for my parents’ anniversary card. They’re celebrating 50th years of marriage on September 2nd. We were all going to fly to St. John in the Bahamas in October to celebrate. It’s not happening anymore. I put together hooks in the wall to hang my stepstool on (shorty me needs a stepstool to reach shelves in the kitchenette) and a shoerack for my closet. I buy a basil plant. I am thwarted in putting another wall rack in the kitchenette because the wall has a sheet of aluminum on it, and I

don’t have a power drill, and the landlords and the Dalmatians Pepe and Pembleton are out of town. I cannot fix my father’s cancer, I can fix these things. Most of them, anyway.

September 1st, 2011 – I’m back at work, and there’s an earthquake. Not one that I dreamed about two months ago, this is real. It’s a shaker for about four seconds, long enough for me to shove off my headphones, turn the chair around, and grip the armrests, ready to bolt if it goes longer than four seconds. This is more movement than my co-workers do, by the way. They’re all frozen like deer in headlights.

I am not frozen. I am ready to move. But the earthquake is only four seconds long. And truthfully, there’s nowhere to go. Nothing to do, nowhere to go.

I can’t stop this earthquake, just like I can’t stop life. It began with a dream two months ago, it has led to this day, and it will go on for many many days more.

We are all falling with Wile E. Coyote, and all I can do at this point is grip the armrests of my chair and hold on for the ride. At least we’re finally in September. Because I don’t mind telling you, August 2011 officially goes down as The Worst Month Ever.