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.

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.

 

10/6/2015 – 9:45pm

I wish I could save my feelings at a certain point in time. I wish I could go back to those emotions and review them, and feel exactly the same. If that was the case, forgiveness would suffer and benevolence would spike. It’d be like time is a non-existent concept in that it could not neutralize or erect past emotions.

This is my strange way of saving my jarring mindset on Tuesday October 6th at 9:45pm.

Beautimous

Almost everyone agrees that change is inevitable. If nothing else, the fact that clock keeps ticking, reminds you of the seconds that go by.

On a lazy midnight and while maintaining a swollen state of mind, I asked myself : what’s not changing? What things, people, or places have not changed for me, or at least, have lasted for long? I started by thinking about things and objects. And oh my … did that not lead to a pile of mental gash.

Things: speaking of things, I’ve never possessed any object with substantial emotional value. But, there is one piece of clothing that I can’t seem to be able to throw away. It’s a v-neck black sweater with dark grayish stripes that I bought in Montreal back in 1997 -when I used to date Nelly. I don’t know why I like it. Maybe because it still fits and makes me look fitter. I get a kick out of the fact that it reminds me of not gaining considerable weight in 15 years. It’s been a hard 15 years, too –with all the change in my eating habits. Ironically, I bought the sweater on the day Nelly lost her ever-so-loving pinkish lipstick, and she couldn’t stop crying for the whole day because of it.

Places: I have perhaps been one of the least faithful people to places. I have lived in four different countries and seven pretty diverse cities. If a given municipality or borough is the fundamental unit of a place, I don’t have any, to call out as the one that has stayed unchanged. So that’s that.

Surprisingly and almost embarrassingly, there is one entity that has stayed unchanged in my life for the past 12 years. That’s the company I work for. In addition, it gets more awkward to underline that this is the only corporation I’ve ever worked for. Prior to that I was the small business fan, and for a few years, an entrepreneur. What Gives! One just needs to read this blog to know how-unlike-me, that is.

Corporations are partly about people. People share one or two aspects of their lives in corporations. Most of them 9-to-5 it, to earn and provide. Some come to heavily screwing the system up and down and left and right, and go to “succeed”. You got the junkies who have read, memorized, and took-to-church the guidelines. And of course there are the sweethearts who are just people people.

What’s so important about a career? I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do, doesn’t matter in a life-and-death kind of way. I could see why people enjoy their jobs; it makes you feel important, sought-after and put-upon. But, I’ve always understood that the best way of my limited time on earth was to spend it with people I love. MC is one of those. He’s a coworker. Who he is, and what he means, has been and will continue to stay unchanged.