Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Do over


As you can imagine, it was a complete FAIL on my part.

Yesterday was insane. Today I only went to work for about 3 hours. Then I just wanted to die. So I went home and took some klonopin. If benzos are in the same family as alcohol, they are probably depressents which would explain why I felt so morose coming down? Drugs are not the answer to all problems, apparently. I need to unwind from June, but I just don't know where to start.

There are a lot of things for which I am grateful. First and foremost is that life is exciting and dynamic enough to be presenting all of these challenges. So I just need to balance the thrill of all of this stimulous and still be sane and healthy.

Here is the high light from today:
This morning I got up a little early (inspiration credit AC) and did some stretching and reading of Mary Oliver poems.

Don't bother me.
I've just
been born.

The butterfly's loping flight
carries it thourgh the country of the leaves
delicately, and well enough to get it
where it wants to go, wherever that is, stopping
here and there to fuzzle the damp throats
of flowers and the black mud; up
and down it swings, frenzied and aimless; and sometimes

for long delicious moments it is perfectly
lazy, riding motionless in the breeze on the soft stalk
of some ordinary flower

The god of dirt
came up to me many times and said
so many wise and delectable things, I lay
on the grass listening
to his dog voice,
crow voice,
frog voice, now,
he said, now,
and never once mentioned forever,

which has nevertheless always been,
like a sharp iron hoof,
at the center of my mind.

One or two things are all you need
to travel over the blue pond, over the deep
roughage of the trees and through the stiff
flowers of lightening--some deep
memory of pleasure, some cutting
knowledge of pain.

But to lift the hoof!
For that you need
an idea.

For year and years I struggled
just to love my life. And then

the butterly
rose, weightless, in the wind.

"Don't love your life
too much," it said,

and vanished
into the world.
-Mary Oliver

And with that, I'm off to bed to try again tomorrow.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Happy Pride! Today I went to the parade (sorry no terrible pictures) and like every year it was very emotional. There are always a few times when I just want to burst into tears because I feel so... happy.

The thing about Pride is that it's not just about being Gay. It's about being yourself. It's about being proud of the big freak that you are. I'm not saying gay people are freaks, I'm saying allllll people are freaks. And Pride is about celebrating who we are. Everyone dresses up. If your true self wants to wear a string bikini that's cool. If your true self wants to wear a 3 piece suit that's cool too. If your true self loves boas and ridiculous earrings... People flaunt their sexual kinks, spiritual affiliations, hobbies, pets, familial choices, politics... And it rocks.

The lame part is how corporate the whole situation has become and how much promotional crap gets handed out and how much garbage is generated. This year my goal was to not accept anything but free condoms. No leaflets, no candy, no free soap samples, no vitamin water... no crap. Just condoms. Happy Pride. Happy Be Yourself Day. Come out, everyone. Come out as you. Start being honest about who you are, who you love, and what you want.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Be proud

I am still sick--beginning to think I have bronchitis. At 4am this morning I gave in and self prescribed 20 mg of prednisone to bring down the swelling in my throat and hopefully the irritation in my bronchial tubes. At night I cough so much that I can’t sleep. It is a serious, serious drag. Robatussin is bullshit. I know I’m not a doctor, but I certainly spend a lot of time googling things and I am a WFR…

My oncologist saw me last Friday when I was at my sickest and pronounced me, “fabulous! Go upstairs and take your chemo!”

This is the problem with an oncologist being your primary care physician. When you ask about birth control he assures you that probably can’t get pregnant and even if you did, your current chemo regimen would kill any fetus. Then he gets confused, “wait, I have hundreds of patients, are you one that wants to have babies?” When you have a horrible cold and everyone in the civilian world looks at you like you have the plague, the cancer center folks tell you look beautiful and healthy. If only I could live my entire life just being compared to aged cancer patients…

It’s Gay Pride this weekend! Yeah! We’re here! We’re queer! Get used to it! I think of myself as a pretty queer straight person and even if you get offended by that and insist that I use the label “Ally” that’s fine. There are a still a freaking ton of parties and cool things to do! Christina and I went to Equalityoga practice this morning and did sun salutations with a few hundred folks. I focused my practice on what I’ve been focusing on for the last few months: radical self acceptance. I think this fit in neatly with theme of trying to get equal rights for everyone because if we all focus on accepting ourselves just the way we are, we would probably start to accept other people the way they are too. Christina meditated on love.

Then I began the long and what I am sure will be tedious search for a maid of honor dress for Sarah’s wedding. I only found one acceptable item on my search this afternoon. Sadly I found it in the Designer section. That Tory Burch—she makes a gorgeous sun dress, but $395 is just too much for me to spend right now… on a dress.

The last month has been unbelievably stressful and intense. I am not sorry to say goodbye June 2009. And now it is practically over. I’m trying to stay focused on what I have and what is good in my life and trying not to dwell on the things that are not just the way I want them. I am mostly successful at this.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Too late for Swine Flu jokes?

Week from Hell, round 1=over. Week from Hell, round 2=nagging at the back of my mind and causing anxiety. It is now the weekend. I just awoke from a 5 hour, klonopin induced nap on a Saturday afternoon. I have no plans to leave my house until Monday morning. Even though it would dramatically improve my quality of life next week to work through this weekend, I simply cannot. It is time to rest.

This week was interesting because I knew how much I was hurting my body by working long, high stress days. I knew it was making this awful cold about 10 millions times worse. But there was no. Way. Out. I simply have so fucking much work it's impossible. And no. There are not people to delegate to because that would require taking a lot of time to explain complex systems. Stress makes me paranoid. I know it's bad--way bad. It fucks up your immune system, your digestive system, your emotional equilibrium, and I really believe it's damaging on a cellular level. I believe stress is like poison in my body. And it makes me feel grosser than the swine flu that is currently taken residence.

My health update is that despite the green goo coming out of my nose, eyes, and throat, Dr K pronounced me healthy enough to do my full cycle of chemo on Thursday night. He used his fancy doctor flashlight and said there was nothing bacterial going on in my throat and nose. Viruses--they will be the downfall of our species! I feel like absolute ass.

My personal life is taking a hard hit due to work being so crappy. I a) work all the time, b) am too tired to do a lot of stuff when I'm not working, c) rarely have the energy to reach out and talk to people who are on my social periphery and therefor look like an aloof jack ass, and d) am that annoying person who just bitches endlessly about how fucked and miserable her job is when you do finally get me in a social context. I suck. My social life sucks. My friends are still really cool.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Week from Hell, round 2 should conclude our Weeks from Hell for the month of June. This post is not about sympathy or people finding solutions to my problems. It's is about the reality of what's going on in my life. It's about my post-cancer answers to life post-cancer. It's about lessons learned and forgotten and a realignment of values. It's about trying to do it right, to have it all, and the bumps along the way. It's about blogging stoned on anti-anxiety drugs.

O e t t i n g e r, out.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Toxic time

I have a cold. Not the same cold I had in Pittsburgh--a different cold. This one is more about sore throat, coughing, and a sinus infection. It is crappier than the last cold. I only bring it up because I was just having a ironic chuckle at the fact that I was smearing parabin-laden moisturizer all over my face/nose to fend off dry skin.

Yeah, I'm back thinking about toxins again. They're in everything. It's a toxic world. And pretty much every personal care product is full of carcinogens and we rub them on our skin and it's intense absorption time. Ever since I found that lump in my armpit, I can't bring myself to use real deodorant. I'm back on the natural kick. Sadly, most "natural" products are also rife with shitty chemicals, so read labels.

The thing is, at my last toxics presentation/work shop thing-y I went to, I went as a cancer survivor. My feelings about cancer and toxics are kind of complicated. On one hand, I have absolutely zero interest in the "why" of cancer. It seems like our combination of toxic water, air, and soil, compounded by evolution/genetics is a perfectly tidy and satisfactory explanation. No need to find blame (whether its placed on the victim, society, whatever, blame is boring) for misfortune. Of course everyone has cancer. Of course sometimes weird shit happens and healthy 25 year olds develop tumors. There are bigger things that we have a lot more control over to worry about--like using our tax dollars to spread war, hate, injustice, intolerance, and terrorism. I don't need more things to worry about or feel guilty about or speculate about.

On the other hand, I am spasmodically squeamish about toxics and cancer-y type things I have some agency in: like deoderant and moisturizer and vegetables and diet coke and the like. Some days I have the energy to care passionately about where my apple came from--I feel physically repulsed by the idea of putting pesticides into my poor chemo-stricken body. On those days, I eschew diet coke for organic kombucha and don't get water out of our water cooler (which is bogus anyway) because it's totally leaching BPA into my BPA-free water bottle. I drive my gas guzzling car to the fucking co-op and buy really, exclusively expensive produce. But I put it in a reusable bag.

And then I have days where my toxin-phobia recedes and I drink Diet Coke, smoke a cigarette, and buy non organic vegetables from MacPhersons, don't wash them, and don't give a shit.

So what was my point? Just that when people get all "and this could cause CANCER!!!" as a scare tactic, I am not impressed. And I don't think it's as simple as avoiding toxins because what's so freaking depressing/absolving about these presentations is that toxics are every where. You can't avoid them! They're in your mattress! And car seat! And your mouse pad! And your shampoo! And your drinking water! And you might get cancer!

How to wrap this up? I don't know. Obviously, I'm in a rant-y, inarticulate mood. I know other cancer patients read this--what do you think? Or fine. Lurk. But I guess I do wonder how much agency people feel in their own health and mortality? Obviously, there are things I do "to be healthy" like yoga and eating a mostly healthy diet of mostly healthy and organic food, etc. And there are things I do in direct violation of that health like miss out on sleep to blog, continue work at a high stress job, don't wear SPF, drink heavily several times a month...

I guess it's like all systemic, circumscribed, insurmountable, colossal problems (climate change, globalization, cultural violence, oppression): hard to know where to start when the whole thing is on its way down anyway. I guess what keeps me getting up every morning and doing my stupid job and buying my stupid organic vegetables is that I am always interested to see how the universe will continue to unfold and I feel in my gut that what I'm doing matters in little selfish ways. Like, for the most part I like my non profit/kids/environment job and like the way I feel when I eat lots of vegetables and practice yoga and I might as well be happy if I'm going to bother to wake up at fucking 6:30 am. Fuck. I need to go to bed!