Status post travels with Lucy


I’m too tired to be transferring pictures to Flickr right now, but we just got back from a whirlwind tour of north Jersey with Lucy, the slow footed, slow witted Basset Hound.  Now, as calm and easy going as the saintly Lucy may be, she does not travel well.  In fact, in the four years she has lived with us, she has nevr gone for a car ride and NOT thrown up.  But, this weekend, all of that changed.

We had the pleasure of visiting our new friends who live near Summit, NJ.  They are big time dog people and invited us to bring Lucy for an overnight.  It went great!  The dogs got along, Lucy didn’t puke, and Em and I had a huge time.  Katie and Kieth are about the nicest hosts you could have and it was really cool to see a part of my beloved NJ that I hadn’t explored before.  We all met in Ashland, MA at a couples cancer retreat in May, and it was great to reconnect.  We even got to make an impromptu visit to Citi Field, where the Phillies trounced the Mets – Sorry Kieth!

Now I am tired and full of homemade pierogies we got at the farmer’s market in Summit this morning.  We did get to hear Eric Bruntlett’s unassisted, game winning, bottom-of-the-ninth triple play on the radio as we drove home.  And even with all the yelling and screaming, Lucy still didn’t yack.  Good girl!

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

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

YouTube refused to host because of the music. Nice.

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.

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!