Kancer with a “K”

I take turmeric daily. I thought the odds of me getting cancer were slimmer than say, me getting a heart attack or dying in a car crash involving a rideshare.

I have always had a tiny bladder. “Hold me closer tiny bladder,” I would hear in my head as I would tell people I had to pee. Their eye-rolls and sighs of “not again” would only spear me on to think…this is me – take it or leave it. But seriously, don’t leave…you’re my ride and I really have to pee. BRB.

Last year, my husband and I were in Hawaii. Only two years before, we were getting married on Oahu and it was a fun, exciting, chaotic time. So visiting again last year was like taking all the best moments of our wedding week and expanding and treasuring them, just for the two of us. Our last day, we had an evening flight so the day was going to be filled with wandering, lunch, drinks, more wandering and sitting by the beach. The morning of our last day, I woke up with a terrible burning sensation. I felt like every time I peed, I still needed to. And the pain!!!!!

I called my doctor and asked if she could prescribe me something to make the pain ease up. I had never had a UTI, but I figured this was one. The doc wouldn’t prescribe me anything until I came in to get tested (damn ethical doctor! j/k I love her). I finally went to the drug store to see if there was an OTC remedy which there was. It helped. But our last day in paradise was kind of a mess since I had to be near a toilet and seated.

Upon returning home, I got tested. The results were negative for UTI.

Weird.

There was still pain. But it came and went.

When I talked to the doctor, she said that it was possible that my body was changing and maybe this was part of aging for my body. She said that some medicines for bladder issues made people feel worse than the thing they were trying to cure.

We waited.

It continued.

I went back.

Got tested again.

I told her I needed to see a urologist since this waiting game was yielding no winners.

I meet with the urologist. The conclusion is there is some kind of blockage in my bladder. I assume it’s a cyst that will need to come out eventually. This is good news.

We schedule a cystoscopy for November 7 (a year ago TODAY), where he goes in with a camera to see what the block is and its size.

My appt is in the morning. That same night, I will be heading to LACMA for an event with Shaka, Mads, Jazzy and JRo. I head to the appt. I even have the strangest thought: I am not a person that will ever get cancer. Weird, right? And cocky. But more weird. And cocky.

The nurse numbs me and tells me this is not gonna hurt. She swabs iodine and lots of fluid down there. Doc comes in. Guess what…that camera going up my hoo hoo…it hurts. A lot! He is showing me the live version on a monitor. “There it is…that’s the tumor.”

“What? But but like a benign tumor, right” I laugh

“No, that’s cancerous. And it’s half a golf ball size.”

Those words float in the air as I deal with the pain of the actual camera and the new news of my bladder having a cancerous tumor.

I go to clean up. I use the toilet and out of habit, I put a seat cover down. I am not aware that my whole ass is wet from the fluids they pumped in me. As I stand up from the toilet, I have wet seat cover sticking to my iodine stained butt. I would laugh but I am trying to get dressed to meet with the doctor. But I can NOT figure out how to be an adult at this moment AND get my skin paper-free. I finally work it out and meet with the doctor.

“I didn’t expect THAT news,” I say.

“I didn’t either. Your symptoms weren’t indicating that it was that large or that it was a cancerous tumor.”

He went over the next steps we would take. I would not need radiation or chemo.

We will, instead, do immunotherapy with BCG treatments. It’s a form of TB that when coating the bladder (after they do surgery to remove the tumor), helps the bladder keep any cancerous tumors from recurring. Who was the person who was like, let’s see what happens when I shoot a TB strain into the bladder? Sick person. But I am glad they tried it. Success rate is supposed to be good. Also, bladder tumors happen for the most part, in older men. Who smoke. Or who are around a lot of toxic fumes. I am wondering…how did I get this? Last I checked…I am none of those things. Do toxic people count? Ha, I kid. But seriously…how did I get this?

We schedule the surgery (I will have another doctor since I want it done sooner and mine isn’t available). I have never had surgery. I have never even been under.

After meeting with the doctor, I call Shaka and break into sobs. It’s hitting me in fits and starts. I tell him I still want to go to the LACMA event.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, the only thing different right now is that I know what’s wrong with me.”

We head there. I tell Mads and Jazzy. Their reaction is confusion, like mine was when the doctor announced it to me. Only theirs has the added bonus of me saying it as if I am telling them about my new hair cut. Like that scene from “The Room” (go to :30), I just slip it in nonchalantly while I stand up to get more tacos and wine.

We take pictures and check out the cool exhibit and cough at the prices of wine! GASP!!!!

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It is exactly the kind of LA night I love and the kind of outing I need to remind myself I am more than this news.

SKIP SKIP SKIP

I go in for the surgery. I am told by friends and relatives that I will wake up and be amazed that it’s over and that I will feel dreamy. My pre-op nurse is a jokester and keeps saying things like, “I don’t know how to put an IV in…just kidding. I DO!” I love a good joking nurse, but am all but looking like I belong on a fainting couch with requisite wrist to my forehead as I see the IV needle out of the corner of my eye. On the upside…I am in a toasty gurney with cute socks and I feel comfortable. They give me something (they equate to a cocktail) so I will relax as I am wheeled to the OR where they will do the countdown. But as it turns out…I was out before we left the pre-op room. I only vaguely remember them wheeling me and me seeing fuzzy figures around me as I try and lift the oxygen mask and yell, “Is this an oxygen mask????”

The next thing I remember is waking up with a lot of pain and a calmer post-op nurse. And Shaka there with all my meds. The doctor comes and tells me it all went well and we will find out the results of if it reached the walls of my bladder later that week and I will have the catheter in for several days. SEVERAL DAYS!!!!! This is almost as horrific to me as the news about the cancerous tumor.

Thanksgiving was 2 days after the surgery, where I will binge-watch episodes of “The Office”, while perusing everyone’s holiday photos on social media. The catheter is making me so nervous. I also worry because my cat, Buster, likes to chew cords and I am a heavy sleeper. I imagine waking up with the catheter all chewed to bits and me having to get another one!!! But Buster behaved and that didn’t happen.

10 days later, the catheter comes out and the doc says they got all of the tumor. It was a pretty aggressive tumor but still contained (which he found unusual). It hadn’t spread to the bladder walls. I ask the doctor, “so I had a cancerous tumor but going forward, what should I tell people or list on forms? Like, what would you say I had?”

“You had cancer”

“Oh”

I wasn’t trying to be stoopid. I was trying NOT to overthink it.

A co-worker of mine says, “what did you think you had? Cancer with a “K”?

I guess I kind of did.

In the new year (this year), I have to go through the treatments. They insert a catheter into the bladder to administer the medicine. The first nurse (whom I adore), says, your urethra is easy to find. This shouldn’t hurt. Though I love this nurse, I realize she is a LIAR! It hurt so badly. I will say, that was the last time my urethra was easy to find cause I tense that shit up from the pain, every subsequent appt. The next 5 treatments have varied results. Crying, calming meditation, calming medication, me yelling OW OW OW! I must have a mark by name that I am difficult but it might also be that I announce it if I get a new nurse. Finally the 6 weeks are up.

In my naiveté, I assume the pumpkin bread I made them to apologize for my behavior was all I would need to part ways.

But the doctor informs me (and maybe he had before and I hadn’t realized it), I will need a regular cystoscopy every 3-4 months (remember iodine-butt) and then BCG treatments every 3 months and then it moves to every 6 months (3 sessions only instead of 6) and this will happen for 3 YEARS!!!

I almost cry again. But that same day,  I hear the news that a healthy friend of mine who had gotten out of a bad marriage and had found the love of his life and was thriving had been working out, felt weird, went home, felt weirder, called 911 and died on the way to the hospital (I think an undiagnosed heart condition). I mean, tomorrow is not promised to anyone, but DAMN!

So, I turned my  idea of feeling sorry for myself into self care and gratitude that I had a doctor who wanted me to get better. And that I was surrounded by so much love and family and friends. And yeah, tomorrow isn’t promised, so I better like today. I better like this moment. Every moment.

So the second round of 3 treatments happens and on the second one, I get a new nurse. I go through my usual, “I am a bad patient, so you will want to make sure I am blah blah blah and yadda yadda yadda…” I see her eyes get big with concern.

I feel her poking around down there and I think, Damn it, she is new at this.

I ask, “have you found the urethra yet?”

And she says, get this, she says, “We are almost done!” WHAT!?!?!?!?!

There was absolutely no pain.

The next and final treatment of that session, I have her again. I wonder if that pain-free session had been a one off.

But nope. Same thing! No pain!

I think, she must be a witch and has put a spell on me to make this easier. Whatever, I will take it!!!!

So with my gratitude and my summer plans, I enjoy my life.

In September, I go back in for another follow up cystoscopy (iodine-butt).

He says, “Hmmmm, there’s a tiny growth there. It’s not anything serious but it wasn’t there before, so I want to remove it.”

I have to go in for ANOTHER surgery.  I am happy it’s benign but I am not happy that I have to go through this again.

I have the surgery. It goes well. The first 4 days after, I am pain free and feeling amazing (no at-home catheter this time – YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!)

Then the 5th day, the pain starts up. OUCH.

In fact, I am just NOW, nearly 6 weeks later, just feeling the pain subsiding.

A few weeks after the surgery, I have a post-op appt with the doc.

He tells me that they biopsied my tiny little growth and it was indeed, CANCER (FUCK! Again!). It was a different kind than the last one. This one is the more aggressive kind (apparently there are various KINDS that get to invade my bladder like some messed-up video game with Bladder Monsters). The doc is shocked since, like with the first one, this growth wasn’t acting like the usual kind of aggressive tumor.

But now I have to start all the treatments again. Like from the beginning.

My first session of 6 starts next Friday.

I am not happy about it. In fact, I have been feeling very uneasy that I don’t know what’s to come, since my poor bladder has been through the ringer already. I write this today and can’t believe it’s only been a year since I got the news of the diagnosis. I had been planning on writing this post for awhile, but that was before the second diagnosis.

On this day, 4 years ago, our kittens came home with us (after they had almost died due to an infection)

That is a good memory of this day. And my sister told me today is the day my teenage niece came home from the hospital 2 years ago after being very sick for like 2 months. So it’s a strange day of highs and lows in my family, I guess.

The other thought I had was that since my tumors (gosh, plural) have not acted or behaved like NORMAL bladder tumors and since these have been caught early and I have a good team, I will take it, that perhaps, I do have Cancer with a K.

Maybe it’s the imitation kind of cancer.

Wish me luck that I get the witch nurse again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Residue from the Cult-of-Personality

I was a little surprised to be getting a call from Faye the day before we were gonna meet for brunch. We usually text.

I was out running errands and took the call.

“Do you know who Caroline Calloway or Natalie Beach are,” she asks.

I don’t.

She begins to tell me about them.

Caroline Calloway  is an Instagram influencer who has also been accused of scamming her followers for a “Creativity Workshop” that failed. She has been compared to the likes of Billy McFarland (Fyre Festival CEO), but I wouldn’t go that far. Caroline seems to take her critics to the bank as she turns their insults into merchandise. She became Insta-famous for writing longer (bloggish) captions on her IG posts before anyone else was doing that. She had a college friend who was like her invisible, talented, ghost-writer side- kick, named Natalie, who helped write some of those captions. Things were sort of good. Then they weren’t. And the friendship ended. Now Natalie has written an article for “The Cut” and before it came out, Caroline was giving it press in her anxiety of what was to be written.

It did come out. And now, Natalie has a deal with Ryan Murphy for the rights.

Natalie’s side of things

Faye wanted me to read up on it for our brunch the next day so that we could discuss, since we both love all things pop culture, real housewives and social media. It also touched a nerve with regard to fame, friendship and that elusive quality of being IT.

We met at Faye’s and walked to   Loupiotte Kitchen   in Los Feliz. It was HOT outside. Not cool, global warming! (ha literally). These temps lately have been making my eyebrows sweat off. Actually, just one eyebrow. Which is worse, because it looks like I gave 1/2 a shit. It never looks like I put the effort into it that I did. And it definitely never looks like the cool, no make-up/make-up, effortless look the French girls have like   Camille Rowe.

I used to live in Los Feliz but it’s been awhile since I have walked to brunch there. So much has changed (she said with the sort of awe of a person who has been gone from her hometown for ages). Loupiotte was a perfect choice! If I can’t have French style, I can have French brunch. We sat down and ordered our food with a side of the pastries sampling (can you say petit pain au chocolat? YUM) The food came fast and the oat milk latte (you heard me) I ordered was fantastic!

So Faye and I discussed the whole Caroline/Natalie saga as if it were our jobs.

But it began to turn into something much more. We discussed why the story touched a nerve. How, when you’re young (though it’s not only reserved for the young), you are trying to figure out who you are and you find people in your life that spark you. So much of the time, those sparking people are incredibly toxic. Which is why your friends and family scratch their heads wondering what you see in that person.

We pondered are we more a Natalie or a Caroline? Or both? And Faye pointed out that your answer of who you think the villain is depends on your own experience. Were you an alpha or a beta in those relationships? I have been both. I never think of myself as the villain, however I told her that in high school, I wrote so many papers sympathizing with the antagonists that my teachers started to worry for me.

Caroline is pretty. But she’s not the most gorgeous woman you will see. And Natalie describes herself in more understated adjectives, however, from the rare photos, she isn’t unattractive. What makes someone like a Caroline shine, while someone like a Natalie feels sidelined? Privilege plays a role, as do certain influences and experiences from a young age. But really, a lot of it is how you see yourself and value your own worth. We both agreed that neither of us saw either as the villain. But that Natalie’s article almost birthed Caroline into a literary character. Maybe she already was and Natalie captured it. We love messy, complex women. And we also don’t.

Our discussion continued as we talked About how society is training young girls to be strong and speak their minds but that there is always a limit. Who decides that limit? Why do people love an underdog but only to a point? Why do people love to hate/watch social media posts about the wealthy/successful/clever/narcissistic? Schadenfreude is a component, for sure, but I think there are more layers. We opened the vaults to our own experiences with these situations. About giving our power away to people so easily. About our own culpability in those moments. About the lessons we now can say we learned.

Loupiotte was busy. But we seemed to fade into our own world. No one pushed us to leave or hurry up. The vibe in there was lovely. Our discussion rambled into various phases of hypotheticals about social media and devil’s advocate stances to oppose. I hadn’t had that kind of marathon philosophical/social/real world kind of discussion since post-college, I would imagine. Or perhaps when I was high in Palm Springs on one of my many girls’ trips (but who can remember? ah weed).

We met the owner (an effortless French woman) and paid our bill. We continued our discussion walking up Vermont Ave, peering into shops. Once back at Faye’s, we began to talk about other things that were equally important but which we hadn’t given enough time. Then, her cell rang; her mom. My cell rang; my dad. It was strange that we had been talking about youthful experiences and behaviors, only to have our parents tell us it was time to go home and get ready for the week.

Faye looked at her phone to see her IG showed a post of Caroline at Glossier here in LA. We laughed. We have no idea why this girl is interesting. But we follow her anyway. I guess we will continue to try and find the answers. Maybe youtube has a video on it. Don’t mind me while I do some research.

 

Contact Highs and Lows

“I can’t believe you have never been to the Annenberg Space for Photography,” Mads said while sipping a very large vodka soda. It was Friday night and I was exhausted and feeling like the day had its stank on me. Mads texted, do you and Shaka want to go out tonight? I wanted to. But, I also knew I was pooped from a really strange week.

Shaka agreed we should go and there was no looking back on that decision. A night out with Mads and ST8 is always fun, if not funny. Plus it’s good when you’re feeling low, to make contact with people who will bring up your energy.

We met at Mucho Mas (“full bar and old El Coyote drink prices” her text promised).

We had old people conversation (health talk) and hip people conversation (film and music schtuff). I mentioned we were going to the Annenberg to see the exhibit “Contact High: A Visual History of Hip Hop” but that I had never been to the Annenberg before. Mads and ST8 had already seen the exhibit but recommended it. It is strange that I had never been before but there’s a first time for everything.

Saturday, I picked up my new glasses. I must have been drinking when I picked them out a few weeks ago. I don’t remember choosing THESE. I mean. I like them, but I actually had no memory of saying, “Yes, these are my next pair!” But they are…soooo. I love them…now.

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Crosseyed AF

 

Then I headed to get my haircut. Kristen used to work at a salon near me but has her own place now in Woodland Hills. I hadn’t gone to her in over a year and she can shape up this mane like nobody’s business. (https://kristenscurltherapy.com/)

Loved her new place and we chatted about a myriad of topics. Mostly politics (we are on the same page – phew), meditation, spirituality, travel, etc. It was great reconnecting with her and I love my new cut!!!

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New glasses, new cut (and after today, new color) – ohhhhh somebody STOP ME!

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When I got home, Shaka and I started to catch up on Mindhunter first season. I wasn’t in a particularly bingey mood but Netflix has a way of making that happen even if you didn’t plan on it. *Shakes fist to the Streaming Gods!* We are liking the series…that sounds weird since it’s about serial killers.

Today, Shaka and I headed to Century City to see the exhibit which has been extended until next week, I believe.

We decided to go to Eataly in Century City and nosh on some yummy pasta.

With our bellies full of Italian food goodness, we made our way down the street to the Annenberg.

We parked in a pretty amazing spot. And headed to the stairwell.

We followed a man up the stairs. Shaka asked, “Is this the way to the museum?” The man nodded. We followed him. Up a flight of stairs. Then another. Then down the stairs. The man looked at us and said, “Where is it?” and we realized we had been following a red herring irl. Ugh. Then there was another couple and the man followed them. But they were lost TOO! The five of us rambling up and down the stairs like that scene in Spinal Tap where they can’t find the stage.

We finally make it to a long hallway and to the outside world. We almost followed the group as they headed the wrong way AGAIN! We stood back and watched them go one direction and then come back our way. The man in the couple looked at me after returning and said, “that’s the wrong way. That’s CAA…it’s an agency. A really big agency.” I politely nodded while simultaneously unpolitely saying, “I know.” I can’t fault him though…we were a group unable to find our way out of a stairwell…he probably assumes I am a stoopid.

But the direction gods got us to the right place.

 

The exhibit was really cool. There was a short film too. I absolutely adore photography about pop culture and music.

It was cool to see actual proof sheets too. There was a series of shots with Aaliyah where she had marked big Xs on the proof sheets on the ones she didn’t like (many) and Os on the ones she liked. Throughout the exhibit, even though they were photographs, there was something so visceral and alive about many of the shots.

 

As we left, the line to get in had gotten longer. We decided to try an elevator back to our car which ALMOST didn’t turn out well. But the direction gods were back with us after momentarily tying one on and we found our car.

We drove home over the canyons and past the palm trees.

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After a crazy week of highs and lows, it was nice to end it on an such a high note.

Blue

I was the first democrat in my family. Now, we outnumber the familial republicans.

It’s harder than ever now for me to discuss politics with my relatives. They think I am as ignorant as I think they are. There is no middle ground.

I am spiritual.

But I am not religious. I was baptized. I went through confirmation. I even became a born again christian for a minute when we moved to another state when I was high school, while I tried to find my footing. It didn’t last. The Christianity, I mean. My footing got stronger.

I am not here to say that if you’re a Christian, you are bad. Everyone should believe in something. Something that moves them to be better. To give them peace.

But if you’re a Christian and voted for Trump AND still double down on everything and I mean EVERYTHING that has happened since he has taken office, I can’t respect what you believe anymore when you talk about your faith.

Also, you might want to look at your Christian values at this point.

Kids coming home from a first day of Kindergarten to find their parents have been deported; a 13 year old boy being slammed into the ground by a 39 year old man who felt disrespected by the boy not removing his hat during the national anthem; families separated at the border just for seeking asylum; police walking a black man through town with a rope just because he “loitered” near a building; 3 mass shootings; I repeat THREE MASS SHOOTINGS; Mitch McConnell holding up gun legislation because he is compromised; a news channel letting one of their anchors say there is no white supremacy; all the news about global warming coming sooner than they thought,..people…this all happened in the past two weeks.

We are exhausted. We are mad. We are so distracted by in-fighting during these political democratic debates we aren’t seeing the game we may lose.

Those of us who voted blue knew on that fateful night in 2016, that this was not going to be good. That the stakes were high for what could be lost. That it was going to be terrible.

But you know what? It’s worse. Even when we think we have hit bottom, these times are proving that the bottom has no end. We keep going deeper. If we are exhausted and mad, we must instead stay focused. Not give in to the distractions. Not give in to the hopelessness. Not eat our way or drink our way out of this “presidency” to quell the fatigue and the sadness.

We must vote in a way that is for our humanity.

I didn’t want to talk about this. Not here. Not on a site called PopPeacock which is about my day to day life and my musings. I love so much about life. And people. And other cultures and languages. I love how kind we can be to one another. How love is really stronger than hate. That light conquers darkness. But we are stuck on a hamster wheel at the moment.

We gotta be better than this if we want to live better than this.

If we want to see a tomorrow filled with more tolerance, more love, more kindness, more earth for your children, more resources for the future, do what you can today to start.

Meditate, be kind to those you love and also those you don’t know, call your congresspeople, peacefully protest, volunteer, make your voice heard in your creativity and for fuck’s sake…VOTE for the world and the values that will change this narrative. Not just for president, but on the smaller elections too. Every step matters on this ladder.

“Blue is the only color which maintains its own character in all its tones” ~ Raoul Dufy (French painter)

Let’s maintain our character while expressing all our tones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Out Boys – Spoiled Victory (Damon II)

Too many compliments.
Too much wine.
You’re fine.
It’s time you looked at the facts

Use the lines.
Who cares?
Ego needs feeding.
Maybe bad breeding.
Maybe just insecurity.

What keeps you talking?
You’re mocking
All that is sacred to me.
Women are tests.
A playground of breasts.

You’re full of gifts
And that’s not bad.
But gift in German means poison.
You think there’s truth to be had?
Wait, am I one of your chosen?

What are your plans?
Designs – You know?
Your scams – refined and then, Oh No –
You return to me.

That smile.
Your smile, when I guess your agenda
In light of the truth, I’d prefer to be rendered
Powerless – yes.
I can guess – but don’t say I’d like to be right.
I wouldn’t, you know – it’s a talent, I guess.
One I’d surrender
To be wrong of your gender.
To have one night
And that not be all
Cause you’re my test too and I think I will fall.

But you’ll never know that.
I’ll play your game. I’ll be the same
As you.
For a time
Until it’s too much.
It might be as such that I am losing my buffer with you.

You want to play hero.
Bring me from zero.
Prove that you’re more than you seem.

Although that defines you,
It’s meant to confine you.
Yes, I too, deal well with schemes.

So for the time being
Unless what I am seeing
Is not what you want me to see.

I will walk the tightrope with you
Dance the toxic ballet that we do.
And search for the moment you weaken
Or fall…
One of us must win.
One of us, the foil.
We both know that to the victor goes the spoil.
Let the games begin…

Fall Out Boys – Damon

I was (Marie) Kondo-ing as I do and I came across some old writing of mine.

I once dated a really complex, bad character (let’s be honest, I dated more than one), but this one in particular was quite epic. About 12 years ago, I decided to compile some of my dating stories and I was going to call it, “The Fallout Boys.”

This one dude was the inspiration for a few of the pieces.

I thought I would share a few of these today.

This one is called Damon.

I was in a sketch comedy group. I always had a crush on someon or another in the creative arena. Now being surrounded by the kind of creative boys I had been a fan of was very exciting. There was Adam, who played parody songs that were hysterical and made him a fan favorite. We would have those small moments where he would stroke my hair and tell me I am pretty. I would tell him that I think he is dynamic, as I give him a neck rub (theater people, amiright?). Like a huntress in an orange vest, I found my crush prey. I may not have the best eyelash batting moves, but I do have banter…and determination. I also like doing the chasing. Taking his cues, I called him and asked him out. Music grinds to a halt. Crickets chirp. The curtain came down with a thud. He politely declined but turned distant in a heartbeat. Just like that…my dreams of being the next Nichols and May lover team died on the phone. The next season of shows was unbearable as he actively ignore me, as if I had asked him to father my child.

As the performances carried on during our summer run, Adam “temporarily” dropped out of the group. Bye bye, Adam.

What remained was a rag tag group of gay men playing straight, one straight guy we thought was gay, several horny, single women (some straight, some bi) and one married woman who was thinking of having an affair. We were a time bomb of hormones.

It was one of those summer nights where the air smells clean and has a slight breeze. We performed our usual sketches but there were more ad libs than usual. I contributed to several of them, though I knew the director would chide us for going for the laugh. 

After the show, I met up with my cast mates in the lobby to meet their guests they had brought to the show. I barely noticed the blond guy named Damon who came to see my cast mate, Easter. He was a mix of David Spade with Brad Pitt’s smile. He was attractive in a nerdy way. He looked like a tall boy, but not a tall man. He smiled at me and leaned in to whisper, “You were the funniest one up there tonight.”

I was a little taken aback, since we stood in earshot of my peers. Accepting compliments on the spot wasn’t my forte. I mumbled a polite, “thank you,” as I shuffled my feet and darted my eyes away from his gaze. On second thought, he was nerdier than handsome and not at all my type, so I excused myself from the group. Damon, go try your intense compliments on someone who will appreciate them. I left.

The following week, my friend and cast mate Sandy and I were driving her friend Marcy to a rehearsal  for a radical play being held in a garage. Our cast mate, Easter was also in the play. And so was Damon. As we pulled up to the garage, Damon, leaning against a wall, smoking a cigarette, saw our car. He dropped his cigarette and dashed over with that same intense smile from the other night. He leaned in on the passenger side window where I sat and said, “Hey Sandy! Hey K! K, you were so great the other night.” Sandy, who was getting cranky from a caffeine withdrawal we were about to remedy, said, “Yeah, yeah, we were all great. OK, thanks. Bye.” 

He continued to smile at me with that dopey, child-like gaze. “Come see our show, okay, K.”

“I’ll try,” I said, not sure if I was telling the truth or not. 

“OKAY!” Sandy squawked.

“See you soon, K,” he said, backing away from the car and walking back into the theater. But not without turning around and waving good-bye.

He was actually taller than I had previously given him credit for. And for all his intensity, there was a slight coolness about him I hadn’t noticed until now.

As we drove away, Sandy said, “That guy is a piece of work!”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I mean…he is the biggest scoundrel on that show. Easter and Marcy told me that he has tried to have sex with every girl in the cast and I think he is seeing 2 women from his last show. Plus, I think he is sleeping with the wardrobe girl.”

I wish I could deny this, but my interest was piqued. I would have to downplay my interest, at least in front of Sandy.

“That guy?” I said, trying to hide my excitement.

“Yeah, that guy who has been coming on strong to you. Watch out for him, K. Ugh, he is so obvious and lecherous. He is bad news.”

The fact that he looked like a nerdy boy but was apparently this pick up artist added a new layer of complexity.  When he was just an intense, boyish fan, I had no interest in that kind of dynamic. But this…this was rich. This was dramatic. This was competition. This meant a challenge. An exercise in keeping the attention I hadn’t worked to get in the first place.

The huntress had been reawakened. My orange vest fit perfectly. I smelled a chase.

Unboxing a Friendship

At a job that is in the industry, but isn’t that creative, I met Christia. It was friend love at first sight!

We have the same birthday and the same ideas on spirituality, creativity, positivity and productivity (all the ty words – lol).

Her sweetness is juxtaposed with her silent toughness. She laughs a lot even though her job is challenging. Most people would be happy to have accomplished the work she has. But she isn’t most people. She doesn’t brag and she doesn’t rest on her laurels.

She is also a fire spinner, a dancer, a singer, a producer, a writer and an actress.
She is many more things but I don’t want to make you think she is super human, though I believe she just may be.

This year, we celebrated our birthdays over high tea and she told me that the song she had recorded was finally getting made into a video. She was producing it and gathering her team.

She asked if I wanted to be a part. OF COURSE!

Not sure how I could help, but I wanted to just absorb it all.

I told her I could be as useful or as invisible as she needed me to be.

In May, on the day of the shoot, she picked me up at the crack of dawn, perky and looking fresher than a person who was about to be the producer and the star of a long shoot day would normally be.  Her car was packed in tetris form with craft services (some store bought food and some home made by her) and costumes.

A mutual friend of ours who is in the industry said to me, “you are going to learn so much.” I had worked on sets, both in front of the camera and behind and had even produced a few things, so I was a little taken aback by that comment, but egos are a funny thing.

I wasn’t planning on NOT learning. But I wasn’t in it for the lesson, if you dig.

I won’t get into too many details of the shoot other than Christia brought the energy, the organization, the fun, the creativity and the love to the set. She gathered a top notch team of people. Her make-up artist had created lashes that Lady Gaga had just worn to the Met Gala.

The downtown LA loft space was stunning. My mouth was either agape or smiling.

I put out the food Christia had prepared and was dubbed Crafty since everyone assumed I was the caterer, managing craft services (I wasn’t). But I  did make the coffee strong (no complaints) and I did somehow sense when to shift from breakfast food and then put out the lunch food and then snacks as there wasn’t a clear distinction of a “lunch break.” Maybe I was crafty – ha. Some of the crew, I respected from afar but would never warm to, while a few others, I was instantly drawn to. There was such a level of creative talent, that it was overwhelming in the best way.

There were lots of costume, hair and make up changes. The set and art direction were fantastic!

little box eyebrowslittle box setlittle box christia

It was a long shoot day but it ended with Christia taking Shaka and me to dinner and us recollecting all the adventures.

Our mutual friend had been correct. I learned a ton that day! Some lessons were production based. Some were personality based. And some were just knowing how far I have come in my own personal growth as a friend and as a creator. Witnessing how Christia handled this day and her own personal journey was quite rewarding.

Today, her video dropped and I stayed up last night to watch the premiere. I am so excited and proud of her for who she is and what she accomplished and what she will still create.

little box christia black hat

 

Radical Self Care

When I was younger, summers seemed to last forever. But then again, so did the school year.

Time is funny that way. And also…just saying “when I was younger” is strange since I was younger when I typed that sentence. That time of my life when summers were long was probably the span of 8 years maybe. Think of how long 8 years go by now.

Poof!!!!!!

and

Splat!!!!! (that’s my brain exploding).

I don’t think it’s so much that we are older or younger, but it’s where our attention goes. As we get “older”, our attention is spent on other things…more “adult” things than when we are kids. Ruts happen, bills get paid, time takes on a new meaning.

In talking to a co-worker yesterday, we discussed the ripples that get created in your life when you practice RADICAL SELF CARE. Sounds extreme, right? And it kind of is…at least in thinking.

It’s not only about pampering yourself.

Though, that can totally be part of it.

It’s about having your boundaries in line, about knowing yourself, and about being your best advocate.

This past weekend, I did fun things that we had planned, and some spontaneous things. I napped. I wrote. I cooked. I colored my hair. I massaged my feet. I turned down a few invites. I checked up on friends. I called my parents. I sewed missing buttons back on my clothes. I ate blueberries (I don’t normally like them). I stretched. And the most important item for me of late…I meditated.

I find that just taking 5 minutes of breathing can lead to carving a different path in your thoughts. Those 5 minutes turn to 10 and then to 15 and so on and so on.

I know not everyone has the same time constraints and obligations. But you have 5 minutes. FIVE MINUTES! In those 5 minutes, you can breathe into a new universe of potential. Will it happen overnight? Probably not, but it could.

If meditation isn’t your thing, put on your favorite music. Or read an excerpt from your favorite author. Watch a trailer for an upcoming film you are dying to see. Sign up to volunteer. Leave a vm for a congressperson for a cause you are passionate about. Play with your dog. Listen to kids laughing in a pool. Or…shut a window to drown out kids laughing in a pool and enjoy the silence.

It’s all about raising your vibration to get you back to taking care of yourself. And those vibrations begin to create action rather than reaction. In action, you start to radically change moments around you.

rad·i·cal
/ˈradək(ə)l/   noun
plural noun: radicals      a group of atoms behaving as a unit in a number of compounds

Self care should be something we do as regularly as brushing our teeth.
But since we are in a hyper-stimulated lifestyle these days, we have to amp up things just to get back to regular.
Get radical!

And if you think it takes a lot to get there, just close your eyes and take a breath.
And then another.
Before you know it, your breaths and time will start behaving as a unit in a number of ways.

And you will be able to find wormholes of time in those breaths.

Just like summer days when you were younger.

And if you happen to schedule a massage, there’s nothing wrong with being radical like that, either.

 

 

Big Little Expectations

This season of HBO’s “Big Little Lies” has left me feeling a little cold (and not in that Monterey fog kind of sit on your deck with a glass of wine cold). The first season held such beautiful imagery and mystique of a No Cal beach community. Paired with the amazing soundtrack, I, like every other fan, was hooked and was excited for this season. Meh. But every Sunday, I still tuned in.

bll

I was tepid about tonight’s finale. That’s only because I had such high expectations for it. I am not a believer in keeping expectations low and you won’t be disappointed, though I understand that line of reasoning works.

I am more of a “let’s aim for the moon and land among the stars” kinda gal.

A long work week for both Shaka and me, made us exhausted and ready for Friday evening in the biggest way. That isn’t to say it was a bad week. It was just very long.

Heading into this weekend, though, I realize, my expectations were high. I had big plans…HUGE PLANS! But I detest Sundayitis when the realization hits that all wasn’t accomplished before you begin a new work week.

But I am ahead of myself.

Every Friday, my department at work begins the weekend off with a bar. I haven’t gone in some time, but was happy to join in last Friday. We even secured a little turntable and were ready to play some cool vinyl that has been inherited or procured by Sutton, my cool co-worker whose stories are really cinematic and true! oxnard paakIt was a great way to make my way to Shaka. After a little deliberation of where to go for dinner (how come you have so many ideas of where to eat until the moment it’s time to eat?), we headed to Hugos (https://www.yelp.com/biz/hugos-studio-city-4). I hadn’t been there in awhile and it was delicious!

Saturday morning, while getting ready for a friend’s epic bday celebration at their newly renovated house, I began watching some season 4 Queer Eye. queer eye

I was in it for every emotional heart tug. I love those guys. Jonathan’s comments give me life!!!! I wish I showed some restraint to savor and not binge, but I know who I am. And well…by the end of the weekend, I am finished.

Sorry not sorry.

Then we headed to our friend’s pool party. The house is amazing! And there were kids everywhere. The last time we went to their house for a party, the house was a quarter of the size and many of the children weren’t even born. It was so much fun seeing Coll and Roo! And then Mads and (and correction here…her husband wanted to be called Sugar Tush 8 and not Sweet Tush 45. So his new moniker is “ST8”) ST8 arrived and we savored the tacos being served and marveled at the spaciousness of the house.

Nice people, fun times, happy birthday Roo!

In the evening, Shaka and I saw Awkwafina’s new film, “The Farewell.” farewellI really enjoyed it. I am still processing parts of it and will most likely discuss with my walking partner, Zam tomorrow.

My dreams were filled with Queer Eye moments mixed with The Farewell. I am sooooo on the nose sometimes. Even in slumber.

Today, was pretty chill. Shaka has been re-recording the first song he ever wrote and getting it just right, so it’s on repeat in the background. Even when it’s not playing, it’s STILL in my head. It’s really good! I can’t wait to share it here once it’s finished.

After running a few errands, I came home to Shaka sauteeing mushrooms in garlic and onions and it smelled heavenly. Even though I had been milquetoast on the BLL season, I was still invested and ready to watch. The vibe of wanting to drink a glass of wine, while watching the waves as the weather turns moody was alive in me. Though, the weather at the moment, is hot hot hot and there are no waves nearby, I decided to open one of Moondoggie’s wines.

modus wine

Sipping this delicious vino, eating good pasta with my honey, I was in the right head space to watch Nicole Kidman go head to head with Meryl. And you know what? I LOVED that finale!!!! Loved it! And I don’t think it was the wine mellowing me into saying that. It checked all the boxes for me of mostly what I loved about the first season. Was there a lot unanswered? Sure. But that last song with the montage of the last few minutes got me in my heart meat. And was there for it!

As I clinked my second glass with Shaka, I had to admit, I had met my expectations for this weekend. And there is no Sundayitis in sight. Only dreams of all I watched, accomplished and wanted mixed with what I hope to see play out this coming week. Clink!

 

Quicksilver People finding IT

When I was a kid, my biggest goal was to become an actress.

I didn’t do anything about that dream other than performing in elementary school plays and then in high school, auditioned to be ONLOOKER in a few other children’s shows.

Finally, in my mid-twenties, I bit the bullet. I went looking for representation where I was told by my potential agent: “Sometimes, you meet someone and they don’t have a lot of experience. But…they have IT. You just know. My dear…you’re not one of those. You don’t have IT.”

Believe it or not…she ended up becoming my agent after I took her suggestions of things I could do to do in lieu of having IT. I got head shots, took classes and ran into her at a workshop. She was surprised I was better than she expected.

That isn’t to say, I was a good actress. I wasn’t really.

Comedy? Yes. But Drama? Not so much.

I actually was a receptionist at the time and had an audition where I played a receptionist. I didn’t get the part. I got bit parts here and there and did a film where I played a woman who died of frost bite. Made my mom cry cuz the blue lips and ice on my lips in my death scene were too much for her. If you look closely, my eyes are shut and I do look dead…except for when you see my throat swallow.

Ugh.

But one of the best things that came out of my acting time, was a friendship I struck up with a girl in one of my classes. The teacher was very dramatic, go figure. And the class was vibrating with wannabe actors like me, all wide eyed and filled with open intentions. This girl I befriended, Debbie, was a raspy-voiced, blond spark of light! She smoked, drank and talked really fast. Her mind was quick. Her loyalty was fierce and her determination was unrivaled. Debbie and I became a squad with a few others in our class. We were all each other’s biggest fans.

Debbie and I grew closer. I didn’t realize she had an alcohol problem. I wasn’t a big drinker back then. And I had grown up in Venice where many of the feral surfer kids were constantly high. I just assumed they were zen from the ocean waves. And with Debbie, I just attributed a lot of her personality of addiction to being part of her charm. I wasn’t the brightest.  What I did notice about Debbie was that she was talented and met people very easily. She was quicksilver in human form. Her parties were epic. Her friends were all characters. Boring wasn’t part of this world.

Skip skip skip…she moved to California (we were in Oregon at the time) and then back to Oregon after working a variety of jobs from personal assistant to valet.

Then, one snowy December, I got a call from her asking if I could drive her to rehab. I remember that driving was a little difficult due to icy roads.

But we made it.

And so did she.

Soon after, I went to a rehab group meeting with her as well as AA and I even went to Al-Anon.

But her world was shifting to a sober focus. I wasn’t a user but I wasn’t a teetotaler either. I am sure that was hard on our friendship.

Eventually, I moved back to California and she and I drifted apart.

Facebook reunited us. And to my excitement, she not only was still sober, but she had carved out an amazing life. She had gone back to school and become a conservation research scientist and the executive director of the KOTA (Keepers of the Ark) Foundation for Elephants.

Just last month, she released her book, “The Will of Heaven” about her recovery and her journey to be an advocate for elephants.

will of heaven

She always had IT! But she also made IT happen when it looked like the cards were stacked against her.

I highly recommend this book. Not just because I know her and am quite proud. But because it’s really good!

I decided somewhere along the way, that my acting career was to be replaced with writing, comedic storytelling and voice work. Shifting like quicksilver looking for its groove.

But because of finally taking the leap to pursue acting, I met some amazing people. I am still in touch with a few. Many no longer act. But all are thriving in various ways.

We may no longer be a squad, but I still always root for them and their accomplishments. And Debbie as the leader of the squad, has my utmost admiration, both for her personal journey and for helping to save the elephants.

Maybe IT is in the eye of the beholder. And like quick silver people, IT shifts when IT finds the right moment in time to find the right fit.