The Beat Goes On…

Ha, I truly didn’t mean to make you wait to see what happened.

I was going to write about my phone call with Debbie. And how it was so comforting to reconnect with her. She is truly marvelous and funny and smart and savvy.

But what I was also going to write about was that this same weekend, I had had a deep, connecting phone call with Faye. She and I can always get philosophical in no time flat. We just get each other. But this particular call stood out. I don’t know if COVID shut downs are making me reevaluate my relationships differently or if it was just one of those amazing calls.

But it turned out, it was an amazing weekend of calls.

Cuz after that call, that same weekend, I had the same kind of conversation with Mads. And with SG. SG and I had a zoom call and I got to see her cool apartment in Portland. She is another from my past that has come into my present. And it was really great to catch up.

I was going to write about it all in more detail.

But time got away from me.

And then there was the election. A week of stress, wondering if we would stay in this situation with a baby-man president. A week of stress realizing that the differences I share with some family members is no longer about different ideas on policies but that there are actual differences about ethics. And can I live with that? Can I live knowing these friends and family members are a$$holes? Many claiming to be religious too. Ugh.

And even though the party I voted for won and is now in the White House, the idea that it was that close really hurt my heart.

But I digress a bit. Sorry, I meant to be catching you up.

Shaka, Faye and I were supposed to be on a game show. That was going to be a whole story in and of itself. But after multiple zoom auditions and filling out more forms than I do at tax time, we went to shoot. Except we never got on. We sat in a cold sound stage watching everyone else get picked for the team. And there we were, three pathetic figures asking if we could go home. And then getting defiant about it. Plus, my face shield fogged up the ENTIRE day so in addition to having to stay 6 feet apart from my husband and friend, I couldn’t hear them AND I couldn’t see them. AND we didn’t get on the show. I like to think there is a good reason, but sometimes, you just don’t get picked. But we did get free covid tests where we didn’t have to wait in the usual long lines, so there’s that.

And Leigh had a birthday. I asked her what she wanted to do. She told me she wanted to go to the beach. I hadn’t been in a car this entire year with anyone other than Shaka. So Leigh and I talked about it, and we decided we would double up on masks and then drive with the windows down.

It was her birthday, but I felt like it was mine. It was a magical day of cold, clear skies. There were very few people out at the Ventura pier. She and I sat on the beach for hours watching the waves and having the kind of conversations you do with someone you have known since you were 5.

We watched a dog live his best life in the surf chasing birds and waves for an hour, while the owner sat on the sand with a poop bag and a tennis ball.

And then the holidays were upon us. I must say, it was actually an enjoyable holiday season for me because I am usually running everywhere, saying yes to every invitation and baking and cooking a lot. But everything was paced nicely. I dropped off pumpkin bread and gifts to any of my friends who were accepting baked goods. I met up for social distanced walks with a few others. And Shaka and I joined his sister and her husband with masks in their back yard for an afternoon of socially distanced gift exchange and mulled wine.

It was quite calm. And very fulfilling.

I embraced the New Year tentatively (cuz last year’s cries of “2020! Woo hoo!!!! Year of perfect Vision!!!!” didn’t age well). It was nice. A zoom call with Zappy and Mads where we dressed in sparkles and toasted our health and our friendship and to beginnings (and endings).

Zoom NYE

We didn’t want to put too much pressure on 2021. Or Biden. But we toasted to hope.

And then Leigh called to tell me her mom hadn’t been feeling well. That she was having trouble breathing.

So Leigh took her in to the ER where they admitted her. I was surprised they got in so fast since many of the hospitals at this point were full.

They gave her oxygen and she was feeling better. She even told Leigh that she thought she would be released soon. Leigh’s mom is a strong woman with crazy determination, so Leigh wanted to make sure the Doc didn’t release her based on her mom’s will. The doc told Leigh he didn’t plan to.

I made a concerted effort to start walking daily with Shaka. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to find my groove, my routine. But you meet yourself where you are. And I was in a place of gratitude for my health and my life and my relationships.

Then the Insurrection at the Capitol happened. And I knew that my feelings of unease at how close the election was was coming to fruition. I felt very saddened. And enraged. How much more damage could happen before the Inauguration?

Then I checked in on the group text for Leigh’s mom. One person asked how she was feeling.

I kept blinking at the phone as I read the words that her mom had passed away.

It was like that moment in a movie where the world becomes separated from you and you are just standing there alone. I called Leigh. The sobs shook our call. I called her sister and her niece.

I made a tribute on facebook with all the photos I could find. She called herself Dolphin Di. She was nearly 37 years sober, she scuba dove all over the world, she taught art, she delivered Meals on Wheels, she cared deeply for her family. She was complex, though. She was impatient and could snap and feel wounded. When I was a kid, she didn’t know what to make of me. She thought I talked too fast, too loud and too much. True true true. But as I got older, I think she liked my light and my fun. She had an elfin grin. You had to be careful when looking through her photos of her dive trips because there would be naked boobie shots in the mix from when she would flash the camera. She swam weekly in the ocean with a group of women. After she passed, a few of them gathered in her honor and when they reached the buoy, a pod of dolphins swam by. Dolphin Di was there. Was with them. It’s her laugh I will truly miss. So full. So lusty. So charming.

Dolphin Di

We are so close to the vaccine being available to everyone. So close.

And yet, death is all around us. Rage is all around us. Sadness is too.

In general, I tend to cry pretty easily.

But I will say that during this past year of COVID shut downs, I was pretty stoic. I was also very hopeful and determined. Determined that I would come out of this time stronger.

The daily walks have now become my salve. I need them. I love feeling the sun on my face. I love looking at the houses in my neighborhood. I love spending this time with Shaka. Our conversations get deeper and deeper. Sometimes, it’s the edibles. Sometimes, it’s just us.

This weekend, I watched, “The White Tiger” and “In and Of Itself”. Last weekend, I watched Promising Young Woman. I adored all three films. All were dark and funny, but they left a lasting impression on me. All three are in some way about how you are labeled in life. Is your life created by your identity? Or does your identity create your life? And can you change your identity? And how beholden are you to how you are seen by others? Strange questions to try and answer when you are quarantined or adhering to stay at home orders. Sometimes I wonder if Shaka and I are the only people around. Sometimes, our bubble is very quiet.

All of this…the films, the talks, the connections, the loss, the changes, the deaths, the beauty, the humor…it’s all been A LOT.

I have been stoic during COVID. I try and be the calming effect for friends who are having a hard time. Or I try and realize this time will end and what did I do with myself during it. I have a made a few epic birthday videos for family members. I am working on other creative projects. I continue to laugh daily and am grateful for life.

But this week, a dam has broken in me.

The tears have been coming and coming. And the pain rocks my soul and my heart so fiercely, that I stutter my words.

I keep saying there has never been a better time to be in a pandemic. We can do so much virtually than we ever would have at any other time. We can have things delivered. We can live in our homes with so many streaming options, it feels weird to complain.

But

But

But…maybe it’s because it’s so close to feeling normal that we feel so disconnected. I mean, if we really couldn’t see each other virtually or order food or see anyone, we would really notice the difference. But because it’s like house arrest but not really but kind of…the feelings get messy. Where do you put them? The feelings?

For me, I put them in photography. Or in words. I put them here.

I catch you up.

On my life. On my joys. And my sorrows.

I sing. I dance. I laugh with Shaka at his jokes.

Daily, I time my showers against the food truck in my neighborhood playing “La Cucaracha.” If I have showered before I hear it, I know I am on track.

And “on track” changes daily.

Some days, it’s making sure I don’t lose my mind from a few of my co-workers and other days, it’s making sure I don’t kill my cats while I am working. Some days, it’s making sure I take my walks and other days, it’s making sure I call my family members.

And other days, being on track is just being grateful.

Unless I hear La Cucaracha wafting in the air on a Saturday…then I just laugh.

Cuz there isn’t any way, I am racing to shower on the weekends to the schedule of a food truck.

Stay safe, everyone.

The VCR Chronicles – In For A Penny, In For A Pound

I thought I was doing well, despite, well, you know…covid.

But after many months of being home and living more in our bubble than many around us, I was craving a home refresh.

But any new furniture or home decor must be able to be delivered, or not too heavy or large if I buy it somewhere and it must be in my budget.

le sigh.

Too many constraints on my wild need to redecorate our space. This refresh would bring me some adventure and change in a time when spring melts into summer into fall and I barely wear pants.

Shaka keeps saying we have outgrown the space. I keep saying, we just need to reorganize.

So I looked around our space to see what I could redo.

Our office/guest room has a tv/vcr combo that is taking up some space. As is the shelf of VHS tapes. I bought some hardware and software to convert them with the tv/vcr combo. I tried it but it didn’t work.

My sister said when she was doing the conversion, she used OBS Studio. I tried it but it didn’t work.

I ended up getting a new computer. It didn’t work.

I got another capture device. It didn’t work.

I sent out an inquiry to work people on our intranet.

First guy said his dad was moving and had a vcr/dvd combo I could have but he wasn’t sure it worked.

Another guy at work had a working vcr but needed to get it back from someone who had borrowed it.

The vcr/dvd combo ended up working like a charm.

Then it stopped working.

Thank goodness the guy with the working vcr was able to get it back and was willing to still loan it to me.

Then…that one started working ONLY with the OBS studio but no sound.

I went to bed racking my brain for solutions but I am not tech minded.

I then bought a head cleaner to see if that would do the trick

Shaka smirked from the couch, “In for a penny, in for a pound.”

It’s true! It’s expensive to send them to be converted but I was on my way to spending more if this didn’t work soon.

I became fixated on making this work. It HAD to work! And it had to work soon. I couldn’t finalize my plans until this first row of dominos fell. I didn’t want to live in a half completed project. I am already living in a half reality as it is.

It reminded me of my friends and relatives who are Trumpers. They are not the 1% but they still believe somehow that he is their savior. It’s quite gross. And distressing. They believe in his cult of personality. They believe his lies.
They too, are in for a penny, in for a pound. They double down with vigor and anger as they tell me I am the snowflake or that they won’t live their lives with fear. Though their very tone is quite fearful. I am afraid.

But unlike them, my obsession isn’t based in misogyny or lies or straight out thievery. Mine is all about finishing this damn project. By myself. The only lie I am believing is that I can do it.

I went to Youtube University to learn a new trade (fixing vcrs), but alas, it confirmed what I already suspected. And it’s that I stop paying attention when there are more than 8 steps involved in the first 2 minutes of the tutorial.

Then, I went back to the vcr/dvd combo that had stopped working. It ate a tape. I took off the top of the vcr and started to blow on the inner workings (you might want to take notes, pupils…this here is the technical portion of the lesson – hahahaha). Shaka walks into the living room to see me with an exposed vcr playing and me holding down the tape with my finger.

“Who did I marry???” he laughs

“It’s working,” I cry out like I discovered gold in them thar hills, “It’s FINALLY working!!!!”

I am now nearing the end of the project. Many vhs tapes down. Many hours of watching stuff I didn’t need to digitize like old Bill Mahr or David Letterman or Dharma and Greg promos, Everybody Loves Raymond, Mad TV or other shows I can’t remember. The pile is but a wee stack.

I am finally feeling a win. Once we move the tapes and donate the tv/vcr combo, we can move some furniture around and rearrange things. Move your stuff…change your life!!! My life will be on track!!!!! Okay, that’s a stretch, but it will be some movement.

But during this laborious process, I was finding a time capsule into my past.

I was able to digitize old commercials and old films I was in.

I also found a vhs tape from my friend Debbie (whom I wrote about before https://poppeacock.com/2019/07/18/quicksilver-people-finding-it/ ).

She has been sober for a long time. This tape was made before then and right before her world drastically changed. She filmed her life on her last day (and night) in SF before moving to Ojai.

The label read: To Ginsu Girl from Beecharmer.

I digitized it.

Early in the shutdown, I got back in touch with Debbie. It was like no time had passed, but for sure…multiple lives and experiences had existed in the interim. It was like feeling some movement in a finger that had gone numb.

After I digitized a film we had both been in (actually she was the one who got me the role), I emailed her to let her know that I had a digital version of the film and the SF tape she made for me and did she want it.

The time between hearing back from her was a strange pause because I didn’t want to send her anything that was triggering to her sobriety.

I was in a certain headspace of archiving my memories and projects but that didn’t mean she was.

I waited.

And then I heard back….

TO BE CONTINUED

Quarantine Serenade

Obviously, everything’s not alright. But since we are in unfamiliar territory, we need to keep our spirits high even when things are scary and tense. Money, jobs, health, food, supplies, childcare…these are all real issues facing us. Please don’t lose hope. I am trying to keep my spirit up by writing, connecting to family and friends via facetime and whatsapp as well as meditating and playing with the cats. I also felt like singing this song and sharing it with you (please excuse off key moments). Good luck with wherever you are physically and mentally today. We are in this together. And wash your hands.

Paso Robles

My first round of treatments were coming to an end, and the holidays were also going to be almost over. I decided since we had a couple days free, Shaka and I could take an overnight trip. My co-worker had gone to Sensorio back in October and loved it. I had never been to Paso Robles before and thought what a perfect opportunity. I didn’t realize it was only 3 1/2 hours from LA. Mads hooked us up with a private, members-only wine tasting at Justin Winery. We didn’t have tickets to Sensorio because the online tix were sold out but you could take your chance in line if you showed up. We planned our trip for the day after Christmas.

Christmas Eve was lovely at my relatives’. And Christmas day was festive. Our friend BW has a Christmas day open house every year and she recently moved a few blocks from us which was uber convenient. All her guests are creative people. Writers, producers, art directors, musicians, etc, so the conversations are always lively. Then in the evening, we headed to Shaka’s brother’s for our gathering. I almost had asthma from laughing so hard several times throughout the evening. The rain was pouring down and I wondered how our drive would be the next day.

I didn’t need to worry. The weather was perfect on 12/26. We began our trek to Paso Robles at 9am with all the promise a beginning of a trip has. But just as we were feeling the rush of the road, we noticed what would be the first of many traffic jams.  3 and 1/2 hours, they said. It will be fun and easy, they said. Our appt at JUSTIN was changed a few times as the WAZE lady would neutrally state “estimated time in traffic is 30 minutes” causing me to start crying. The only thing that kept me from a full blown anxiety attack was that the views we were passing were so gorgeous.

6 hours later, we ended up in Paso Robles. JUSTIN is located at the end of a very long, two-lane road. It was very scenic and beautiful! I wondered at one point, if we were even going the right direction since there was no signal out there. But lo and behold…we arrived!!!

We checked in and were told to go up the road to the tasting room.

It was a room right next to the wine cave (we’re like Buttigieg, minus the donors, hahaha).

Our sommelier recognized our harried look since there was another couple there who had just come from LA and were headed to Sensorio that night too. He knew how to calm us down. The reserve Malbec was amazing! The pairings were so yummy. Shaka was in bliss and it was almost as if the journey had been a quick, easy jaunt. ALMOST.

Another group came in with the same look we had had. They were grumbling and complaining about the traffic snarl. But after 15 minutes later, their moods, like ours, had shifted.

After buying the Malbec and a few other items, we headed back to town to our hotel/motel (holiday inn – j/k). It was a quirky motel right in the middle of town. As we checked in, the front desk guy seemed to have his finger on the pulse of everything happening in PR (and all the discounts we could get at their affiliates). He suggested we head to Sensorio immediately, so we did!

We got in line right around dusk. It was gorgeous! And colllllld!

Since we didn’t have tickets yet, we were told to stand by this bench off to the side of the entrance.

As the 5:00 pm crowd went in, we waited.

We watched another line form that I assumed was the 6:00 pm group. But then the gate started letting in the 6:00 ticket holders (it was 5:45). So I asked another guy (since the guy who told us to stand by the bench was gone) and he said that the line I had noticed was for people who were waiting for tickets. UGH! I said, well, that’s us, but we have been standing by that bench for an hour. The guy says, well, you can just tell the people at the front of the line.

I sarcastically snickered and said, Yeah right.

But this wasn’t LA. As we went to the back of the line, the guy emerges again and says that the people at the front of the line said we could be in front since they had seen us standing there this whole time. Weeeee! And a few minutes later, we were in!

It was so beautiful!

It was a surreal experience. Even with all those lights, you could still see the stars above so clearly, giving off the impression you are between galaxies or something astral like that.

After our interstellar hike, we went back to the hotel/motel and got in the hot tub. The looks from bundled-up guests checking in were amusing.  As warm as the hot tub was, the walk back to our room was chilly. But it was the perfect way to snuggle in to bed.

The next morning, we headed to town to have breakfast at Andrea’s on Pine. We got in without a reservation or being waitlisted, but 5 mins after we sat down, a crowd started gathering. The food was delicious! If you go, don’t pass on the homemade salsa. It’s to die for!

We asked our server for a local coffee place rec (that wasn’t Starbux) and he pointed us (literally pointed) across the park. I said, ” what’s the name of the coffee shop?”

“Oh, I knew you were going to ask me that..”

I couldn’t help but chuckle. I mean, for good coffee, I WOULD wander across a park blindly, but I didn’t want to if I didn’t have to.

We did take a walk through the park, tho.

We passed a few coffee shops on our way, but we ended up at the recommended Spearhead, the line was long (this must be good). They even had oat milk, so I was happy! And the coffee was delicious! As we walked back to our car, we passed by the Brown Butter Cookies.

I am not really into shortbread cookies, but since I made some this holiday season and won 2nd place at work with my attempts at #thecookies (NYT Alison Roman’s salted butter chocolate chunk cookie), I guess my tastes are changing. We walked into the shop and they gave us a sample. Even though I was so full from breakfast, I had to try it. This cookie was unlike any other I had ever had. It was the salt. It was the sweet. It was amazing!

We bought a bag to give as a gift to Shaka’s sister.

Then we headed to River Oaks Hot Springs Spa. We rented an outdoor, private, mineral water hot tub for an hour which looked out over a vineyard.

Sure, we smelled like farts the rest of the day, but this was a magical experience.

We left Paso Robles at 1:30 pm to make our way to Solvang.

I hadn’t been since I was a kid. I love aebleskivers (a family friend made them for us when I was younger) since they are also the same as the Dutch poffertjes breakfast treat.

Unfortunately, the traffic gods were still at it. Crash after crash added to our time. Every gas station restroom was crowded. I had a long chat at one of them with a woman visiting from Spain who had just come from Big Sur. Her husband was surprised when I waved to her as we drove away and wished her a great rest of the trip in Santa Barbara. Girls make friends in bathroom lines, is what I’m saying.

My dad had gone to boarding school in Los Olivos and asked us to drive through there. He thought it would maybe save us some time since it took us off the 101. It was beautiful (both the school and the town). But we had Danish town vibes to get to.

We arrived in Solvang at dusk. It was quaint and festive.

The traffic gods hadn’t been with us, but the parking gods were! We found a spot right away and ended up getting seated in the Solvang Restaurant 10 mins before they were no longer seating.

IMG_0349

We got our AEBLESKIVERS!!!!

IMG_0348

Yum!

Traffic continued to snarl as we made our way towards Santa Barbara.

We got home at 9:30 pm (I will never believe this trip should be 3 and 1/2 hours!!!!)

I don’t know if it was the traffic or all the things we did, but it felt like we had been gone for a week. I know that time between Christmas and New Year’s is especially confusing with regard to structure, and this mind warp didn’t help.

But you know what did?

Taking a trip with my hubs, meeting people and having fun experiences.

And wine.  And time the next day to sleep in. And then nap.

Happy new year, everyone! May 2020 bring you new adventures and opportunities!!! And if you have lots of traffic, hopefully the view is nice.

 

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!

mask

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.