Beautiful Life with Cancer

Lately, I have been roaming around the Chemotherapy lab of the local hospital accompanying my best friend who is dealing with stage-IV cancer. It’s a welcoming scene for those who are odd-enough to immerse themselves in the hardship of others. The lab has a large room with a nursing station in the middle. There are big comfortable chairs around the room where patients rest for hours to infuse the chemo in.

Everybody smiles and there appears to be absolutely no preconception against anyone or anything. There is no talk of sex, either. Those who run the place seem competent. Nurses consistently use the term “my dear” in their conversations with patients. Patients are usually of two character types: spinners and tuners, but mostly tuners. About half of them wear hats.

Patients sit on those big comfortable chairs for hours and watch the poison getting injected in with each drop. Chemotherapy promises a bargain to cancer patients: in return for the possibility of shrinking the tumor and controlling its growth, you agree to submit to the notion of having a few things being taken away from you including: taste buds, ability to properly digest food, hair, long-lasting erection, and ability to concentrate. It seems like a reasonable trade.

Katy the nurse-in-chief, comes around down to earth and folksy. She has an extremely balanced sense of humor. She says that she has been a cancer nurse for 35 years. She talks about how her work experience has changed throughout years -from the days of patients experiencing extreme adverse side effects –to today when some patients don’t even lose their hair.

It’s mostly a quiet and anxious scene that has its own nomenclature and vibe. You see a lot of deep long looks to blank points. Everyone shares a smile … a real and penetrating smile.

Cancer sounds like a big word, that is often expressed with heft and gloom. These days, I’m experiencing a different side of it. The absorbing fact about facing a serious condition such as cancer is that one spends a good deal of time thinking about the past, and the future. The main difference in this case points to the fact that: a cancer patient’s past has little to no correlation to his future. This is one of those cases where the past definitely doesn’t equal the future …

Today is my birthday. One year older, and perhaps, more peaceful than ever. I have never felt so insignificant in the company of my best friend whose charisma has not left him -no matter how hard his condition has been. He’s a spinner. He has made a party of going through this experience in the chemotherapy lab. He has transformed the chilly, humming and beeping and blinking room into another chapter of his beautiful life where he wears sunglasses, and walks around in surfer-short and flip-flops without any indication of giving a fuck.

 

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Butt Blog

My work has always involved conversations, exchanging ideas, talking, convincing, compromising, being convinced, understanding the context, reading the subtext, pushing, pulling, and getting others to do what they initially had no desire to do. It’s been a constant chess-match that spans across years. An endeavor starting in one culture, and continuing in the next three cultures.

Throughout this time, if there is one thing I’ve learned in absolute terms is this: there is no room for context in American culture. Period!

If you ever start a conversation by laying the foundation of a topic, you’re wasting time. If you’re sharing the genealogy of an issue, people phase out by starting to look at their phones browsing pictures posted by butt-blog on Instagram. Your impatient audience act like: what’s the point? As if the point is a pill. They don’t even care what shit you put in that pill. They just want to drop a pill. Pills like Crooked Hillary and Basket of Deplorables. Heck, even Obama’s cabinet and west-wing members thought Obama wasted “too much time learning” or he paused during conversations because “he thinks too much”.

The American pop culture places no value on the full version of the story. There is an intense systematic disregard for verification, prudence, and due diligence. Everything is a meme. Analysis and position is an article that’s shared online, and is unread by the poster. You’re smart if your article is from NYTimes.com, and you’re stupid if you post something from Fox News. You get more noted if you yell repeatedly and louder -as if you’re selling carrots in a flea market. People keep yelling justice by constantly saying “See, what he said today”. Ok gringo, posting memes does not exactly make you Nathan Muir trying to judiciously rescue Tom Bishop from Suzhou prison near Shanghai.

If you think this problem is to be fixed by changing leaders, you’re wrong. You’re dead wrong … Newsflash … you are the problem. This is all on you with your shitty attention span and non-existent curiosity. You’re one of the many who got us here.

I firsthand witnessed people changing leaders through an emotional revolution. But they continued their own awful habits and cultural norms. A few decades in, they ended up in the smellier part of hell, where they now have to put their full heads in the shit-pool.

Enjoy dropping pills, motherfuckers.

 

Honey, Honey

She asked me if I have ever dressed up for Halloween. That’s a great question. I ask myself a question related to that question every night. I barely know the answer to either the question, or the related-question.

It’s Tuesday. It’s Tuesday in Kirkland, Washington. I am in Kirkland, Washington. A place far from home. I have had a property in Kirkland, Washington. But then this place cannot be any farther from home. Far in many ways. This is my first Tuesday ever in Kirkland, Washington. It’s almost Halloween. It’s October 29th. It’s not too cold yet. Pine needles have covered the front yard.

I’m not going to dress up for Halloween. Why not? Well, you have to rather ask, why. You have to ask why from the people who are dressing up. The default is not dressing up. Those people who don’t dress up, don’t have to justify themselves. The burden of proof is on people who dress up in ridiculous costumes. At some point, most everybody dresses up for Halloween, and then they decide that they will no longer dress up. That’s what I have decided. I’m not dressing up for Halloween in Kirkland fucking Washington out of all places I have lived in. I didn’t make that decision this year or when I was sixteen. I have never dressed up for Halloween. Some say that explains why I’m such miserable person around this time.

This time of the year reminds me of a song called Honey, Honey. I wonder if you noticed, but there is a comma between each instance of the word honey. Basically, honey comma honey. Ken wrote this song. Ken titled this song. When I first saw the title of the song, I read it honey …… honey, like everybody would. There is a sort of deliberate pause implied by the comma between the two instances of the word, honey. A lot happens in that deliberate pause. That pause in stuffed with a few decades of thoughts, hopes, would-have-been(s) and should-have-been(s). That pause is why Ken wrote the song.

This song reminds me of my daughter. I wonder if Ken wrote this song for the daughter he was having. This song expresses my idea for the daughter I’ll be having as a father, and it’s about my hopes and dreams for her. I have never been a parent, but my daughter already has a song written for her. My daughter doesn’t have a specific due date, or even a mother.

Honey, Honey has been playing in my head for the past decade around Halloween. That should explain why I don’t dress up for Halloween.

Autumn

Autumn is the middle child of the family of seasons. Autumn doesn’t get the attention of summer. Neither does she get the flattery and glamour of winter. Autumn is shadowy, as if she knows she is the unwanted child of an affair between earth and its axis-tilt. Maybe that’s why autumn perpetrates a social amnesia. She often puts a beatific expression on her face, eyes almost closed, and head tilted towards the shoulder.

Being the middle child is usually not very easy. It comes with some stigma. Middle children are more misunderstood because they’re curious and portray attributes of a loner. Middle children are often shy because they have learned to let those who desperately seek the spotlight, just have it. They often become impatient quickly simply because they expect to be the last one to get what they want. Many middle children end up being rather uptight assholes as adults … ehem.

But all of these facts shouldn’t cause clinging to a point of view, as though everything depends on it. Like summer and winter, autumn gradually passes away, too. At the end, there is an unexpected warmth in the gestures of Autumn stemming from her sheer display of affection.

Autumn creates a luster in the sky which is not seen or felt in summer or winter. This season of retrospection is fashioned for lovers and strangers.

Leave No Ass Behind

Donkeys are domesticated members of horse family. In certain regions of the world we see donkeys among men and women. Ass, is another name for donkey. There is an estimate that there are more than 46 million asses in the world, mostly in underdeveloped countries. There are many asses in the US as well.

A male donkey or ass is called a jack. Jenny or jennet is the name of a female donkey. Jack donkeys are used to mate with female horses to produce jackasses or mules.

It was around eighteen century when the word donkey gradually replaced ass, and jenny replaced she-ass.A she-ass is non-emotional and lazy. A she-ass is normally pregnant for twelve months. She-asses rarely give birth to twins and they dismiss jackasses for a long time after their pregnancy period is over. But jackasses still manage to fuck she-asses every once in a while.

The ass is not a kosher or halal animal. So they can’t be eaten in some countries. In Abrahamic religions, if an ass pass in front of men in prayer, men’s prayer is voided. Jesus!

Asses have an unbelievable reputation for stubbornness and stupidity across many cultures. There aren’t many studies about behavioral aspects of asses mainly because asses pose a strong sense of self-preservation by quietly eating shit around the corner. No one knows what the fuck asses are up to behind the barn. That’s why domesticated asses could turn into wild asses.

There is a charity in Britain called “Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land”. The main cause for the charity is to make sure no ass is left behind. There was a rumor flying around that the charity has been able to raise no more than $1,500 in sixteen years. If true, it seems generous and kind-hearted people don’t give much of a fuck about asses.

The Big Short

I have become fascinated by the book and its movie –reviewing both mediums multiple times. The best quote of the movie goes to:

“People hate to think about bad things happening, so they underestimate the likelihood … they found markets that sell options very cheaply on things that would never happen. So when they were wrong, they were wrong small. But when they were right, they were right big.”

Grave Filled with Ice Cream

He’s always home. Todd, I mean. He never laughs even though he’s got perfect teeth. Full head of hair in salt and pepper, but the spice of his hair is going bland. Tall, handsome, and in his mid-sixties; Todd can’t help himself but to be noticed as soon as he enters the room.

He has an uncanny side. He wants his grave to be filled with ice cream when he dies. Todd, I mean. He believes pain instructs. He keeps saying that experience is the ability to forget what hurt you. But not so much that you won’t get hurt again. He writes beautifully. His late-style of writing is captivating. Once he wrote “Experience, the conventional wisdom dictates, is a positive. Experience is supposed to teach how to react to circumstances. Experience provides a library of precedent. It can lend perspective. We look at an experienced man’s lined face and grey hair and feel reassured”.

None of Todd’s anecdotes about experience are necessarily untrue, but they won’t stand the test of circumstance because the reality may be rather more complex than what he thinks.

Towards the end of his life, the literary theorist Edward Said became fascinated by the notion of “late style” and how an artist dealt both with age and decay. In his book on Late Style – published three years after his death – he points to those whose late works seem as though they “crown a lifetime of aesthetic endeavor”. His interest, though, is more in those whose late style “involves a non-harmonious, non-serene tension – a sort of deliberately unproductive usefulness”.

Todd has solved countless problems in the past. So he turns to past experience. There is a danger, though, that what was successful in the past will no longer be successful, either because of a false identification of the problem – that is, that a present problem resembles a past problem but is in fact different – or simply because he never leaves home. Todd, I mean.