I don’t even know what to call this post

I guess it’s another catch-all.  The holiday weekend is pretty much here, so everything is starting to slow down, and that is perfectly fine with me.  I’ve been enjoying (NOT!) some bowel distress over the past 24 hours, so I’m glad that there’s no work tomorrow.  I prep’d my butt off for an Arbitration on Wednesday and it went south on me because the panel didn’t like my client – they actually said that to me after.  Hours and hours of prep down the tubes.

I’m just about done with Greg van Eekhout’s (like Vonnegut?) first novel – Norse Code.  Despite the title, it’s actually been quite a good piece of fantasy fiction.  If I were in another line of work, perhaps I could have read this book over a weekend, but with distractions and trials, it has taken a bit longer.  Great action, well written, and sexy cover.  What more could you ask for?  As a rumination on Ragnarok, it’s a bit more fluid and entertaining than Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.  The retelling of myth is a bit more fluid in Gaiman’s work, but the van Eekhout has been a more cohesive read.  I certainly liked them both, but in being a bit less ambitious, Norse Code is actually more fun.  Although, I don’t think Gaiman was going for fun.

Company’s coming to mpomy HQ to help celebrate the holiday.  We’re looking forward to Oscar and his mom and dad.  Pictures will undoubtedly be posted.  Also, we’ve arranged a trip to Morris Arboretum to hang out in nature’s beauty with my mom and our guests.  It should be just the ticket after my beleaguered week.

Over at Fretbuzz.net, the insanity continues.  we’ve got Mr. Delaruss now actively blogging, which is great news.  I’ll also try to do little more micro-music because it’s so damn fun.  Maybe Oscar can help with the next composition.

We have also found out that a cousin has breast cancer – which absolutely sucks.  She’s got a bunch of little kids and she’s almost definitely going to have to go through some of the most heinous shit.  But she’s got a great husband (Em’s 1st cousin) and they’re within shouting distance of top notch healthcare.  It’s still going to be a bumpy ride for that family, so we’ll be sending the good vibes that way as the situation and treatment regimen become clearer.

And lastly, I’ll be trying to get Em to watch Virtuality tonight.  It seems like good, low-impact fun before our guests arrive, and I need to take another look before I write up my thoughts.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Scan Day


As we approach the one year anniversary of the end of Em’s treatment, I imagine there will be a lot of thoughts bubbling around for both of us.  Already, Em has upped the ante in her two most recent blog posts, the earlier of which represents yet another example of her intense and direct writing style.  I urge you to read ‘Pinning Jell-o To The Wall’ right now.

As part of the whole thing, it is now time for her first scan, this one is a CT, which means she rides through the doughtnut after drinking some nasty barium and getting jacked in to an IV.  Considering how everything else has been going so far, we’re pretty confident that there is no nastiness to be discovered, but it’s nerve wracking to go into the hospital and deal with needles and machines and what not.  So we will go together this morning and give that doughnut the old Beckerantz karate chop – HIiiiY-YAH!!

I think I dreamt about last month’s Planet Cancer Couples Retreat.  It was classic dream stuff, like the ‘real’ thing but not at all.  I was sitting at a table and we were playing silly games with strangers, not our newly found cancer posse, but some dream version.  I don’t remember much else, but it isn’t hard to put one and one together this morning.

One last thought about all this.  I’m on a trial list from yesterday in Camden, NJ.  I had to tell the Judge’s assistant that I can’t start first thing today (if they’re ready) because I’m taking Em to her appointment.  The level of understanding I got was refreshing – clearly this woman ‘get’s it.’  That was nice.

Shorts and Stuff

Torture – Sorry about that nasty picture from yesterday, but torture is a nasty business.  I don’t want these pictures released because of some perverse pleasure that results from seeing them.  I want them released because they are horrible.

Trilok – His new record is called Massical and it’s coming out in the UK on 5/25/09.  The original date was to have been early this month, but clearly that didn’t happen.  When will I be able to get my copy?  Who knows.

Em’s extraordinary writing continues to wow people over at Planet Cancer.  Here’s an excerpt:

…wandering through the array of plants, designing my window boxes and picking out flowers for the back yard. I did it all myself. A year ago, standing in the heat would have been intolerable, and driving myself ten minutes to the nursery, unfathomable. But I did it. And I felt like Superwoman.

*  *  *

I realized, in amazement, that I could do it – make something beautiful, take care of something living, exert myself in the hot sun, and not collapse in a heap, crying with exhaustion. My plants are alive, and so am I.

You can read the whole post here.

Phillies – are killing me.  Yesterday’s mid-week, day game was a great performance by ace Cole Hamels with not offense against the Dodgers’ ace Billingsly.  Then we fell behind, then we came back and got the game to extra innings and then we lost.  Em and I checked out a little early to miss the traffic, but not the empty feeling of disappointment.  They’re starting a nice long road trip – hopefully they can figure things out away from home.


Retreat video

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YouTube refused to host because of the music. Nice.

Go Easy On The Guys With The Duckies


Now is not the time to get into the whole psycho-babble, post-mortem, facilitated encounter (i.e. the cancer retreat), but a few quick notes are absolutely required at this moment.

My bad feelings, chronicled below, are not the result of mismanagement or poor execution by the people who set this thing up.  For all I know, they are the Michael Jordan of young adult cancer retreats.  My problem was that I went somewhere, emotionally, that I didn’t plan on going, and that kinda sorta set me off.  It was a ‘safe place’ (more jargon!!), and, by all accounts, I recovered quickly.  The over-arching impression at this point is that I’m glad I went and the result is positive and valuable.

The cooling-off period has been essential.  I don’t like feeling that I’m being manipulated.  I become overly-obsessed with process to avoid substance.  But the genius of what they (Them!) did was that it worked in opposition.  The facilitators (ugh!) did not perform perfectly, and the yoga/massage was a great idea that, unfortunately, didn’t work.  It’s so much better to attempt things and fail than to remain complacent – so I’m OK with all of that.

It’s a crazy exercise.  It was hectic.  It didn’t make me feel so good.  But I think that it worked.  More on this as I continue to simmer and chill.

We put all our eggs in one basket


We’re at the Planet Cancer young adult’s retreat in Ashland, MA and there’s cancer everywhere, even in my apple.  I’m supposed to be at the ‘romantic dinner’, where we will be encouraged to play dress-up with garish costumes, all in the name of good fun and support, but I’m in a foul mood and I think I just lost my appetite.  The plan was to hang back for a few minutes and sort out my melancholy while munching the apple, but even that simple plan has been thwarted.

Look, we have to go to the dark places and we have to remember who we are and where we come from.  This ‘couples’ retreat has put me into the company of some extraordinary people.  There’s quite a range of diversity, but the sub-group of ‘cancer partners’ (of which I am a proud member) had little chat, maybe for less than an hour (not enough time), earlier today.  We’d done our fun and games.  We’d done our zip lines and a few folks showed depths of courage that they probably didn’t know they had within themselves.  So now it was serious time, time to speak your mind.  Often a dangerous moment for me.

There was no surprise which two partners had the most to say.  These women are dealing with a downward spiral that blocks out all hope.  All the attention is focused on the condition of their sick significant others.  There are little children to take care of.  There is a home to tend to.  People have (or had) jobs.  It seems like there is no way out.  That’s because there is no way out.  We live with the guilt of being glad that we’re not sick.  We pretend not to think this would all go away if our partner just died and go it over with already.  And then we expend what small amounts of energy that are left over from taking care of the significant other, and we use it to beat back all these horrible feelings.  Why did you have to get sick?  This is all you fault.  You ruined my life.

If I never said it, I’d go mad.  I couldn’t function.  I’d be eaten alive by my own fear of admitting my feelings.  But I think I had a glimpse of what happens when I start to decay, not from the affliction of a disease that is seeking to destroy my body and steal my young life, but of what happens when a self-destructive path leads to my own crumbling and compromise.  That’s what happened during Emily’s treatment, and, in my excitement, at finding these kindred souls, I shared these thoughts.

I know about caregivers maintaining a healthy distance from those whom they must protect and heal, but I often forget that I sometimes occupy both of those positions.  I know I need to say these things in front of these people, but I jump right in.  I fall in love too easy.  My mistake was to not consider the consequences.  I had thought that a fine afternoon run would do the trick and bring me back to a peaceful place, but that opportunity was lost to a foolish massage class, presented by a well-meaning new-ager with little or no understanding of his audience.  Also, there were those for whom the peace and serenity that might come from putting your hands on a loved one was, I think, thrown off a bit by the public setting.  The result was a lot of giggling and distraction.  This proved to be a poor substitute for my run, despite the good intentions of all involved.

We were then left with little or no time to relax before dress-up dinner and I became fuming and furious.  I showered and sent Em up to the dining room on her own.  She’s tuned-in enough to be OK with that.  I know how lucky I am.

So now, I take these moments to engage in some reflection to help snap me out of it.  And all I can think of is a comment I made without thinking of it beforehand.  I so often get excited and speak without thinking.  Listeners get an unguarded honesty that wasn’t necessarily intended, and I think that is good.  I’m right there, just being me without thinking of the consequences.  In those moments, I am that confident.  I don’t put on a show.  And while others will (hopefully) react well, I have now gotten more than I bargained for.  It’s not the effect of my words on them that I should worry about.  It’s the effect on me.

I said that we all had put all our eggs in one basket, and now the basket may have a whole in it.

No one is talking about adoption.  Everyone here is has kids or will (maybe) still be able to have kids.  But not us.  Even in this crowd, we’re still all alone.  And in that break-out session, I was all alone.  I meant the comment to imply that someone may die, and wouldn’t that be terrible, but that’s not what I said.  I talked about eggs and holes, like the holes in a person’s flesh that are used for chemo ports, or the holes that are cut in bellies to remove sex organs, or the hole that I now feel in myself, thanks to cancer.

Maybe in a few days the difficulty of this weekend and my current anger will bear beautiful fruit.  I will realize that I can put my cynicism aside and feel hope and strength.  Right now, however, I’m miserable, I’m missing dinner and I’m thinking about a joke that was flippantly tossed around during our discussion – a joke that suggested the real reason we were all here was to make the facilitators feel better about their lives – and none of them have cancer or are a cancer partner.  They’re good, but they’re other people.  They’re not us, and I’m sick of them telling us what to do and when to do it.

That concludes this report from Room CA125.  Let me go see if there is any dessert left.

Cancer Bad. Music Good!

After that post below, I need something to cheer me up.  Last night’s Tilbrook show was genius and I wish you had all been there.  Read my extensive comments below.  however bad cancer is, music will save us all.  Good, loud, rock music.  I’m going to post a tasty Squeeze show on Blogerantz to celebrate the concert last night.

Here’s the Blogerantz link.

This is intense – be warned

Having just watched The Amazing Emily go through much of the same nastiness described in the cover article of the current Philadelphia Weekly, I was extremely disturbed by this story of a cancer recurrence.  It’s also upsetting because I share a home with two cats.

Read the story and get a glimpse of some evil shit.

But the truth is you don’t get to decide. Death isn’t like that. Most of us die lying in our own shit and crying for our mommies.

These People Can Save Your Life

A quick shout to celebrate my return to the ‘Planet Cancer’ community. I’m not on facebook, myspace or any other socializing websites. Don’t get me wrong, I like Scrabble as much as the next puzzler, but I just don’t want to make the time commitment and I don’t want to see these folks from high school.

But then there’s Planet Cancer. It’s just for the young’uns (under-40-ish) and their supporters. Now I’m able to chime in with people from all over the country and the world about all the horse poo we’ve been going through. It just reinforces my fundamental belief, instilled in me from the earliest days of my youth, that its good to share!