this is my only day without morning obligations this week – my only day to sleep in. it’s 6:56am. i am up and writing because i HAVE to be. because i woke up with thoughts racing through my head that were not the kind of thoughts you process then go back to sleep. they weren’t disjointed pieces of a million different things battling for space in my still sleep clouded brain. they were full, clear sentences about very specific ideas that have been weighing on me. these thoughts, i knew, were, in fact, the building blocks of my next blog post. this is the way writing happens sometimes. it’s not a choice. it’s a force. as someone who has many times faced long, long periods of having to coerce/trick/wrestle myself into the chair, when the force takes the wheel i jump in the car. even if it’s 7am.
had another ‘a-ha!!’ moment in therapy this week. i was talking about my recent career successes and how my spiritual-cum-superstitious side perceives them. i told her that, on one hand, i feel like the universe is raining these affirmations down on me as a way to make up for the cancer – kind of like an abusive boyfriend bringing me flowers every day for a week after kicking the shit out of me. then, there’s part of me that wonders if maybe the universe isn’t just giving me this really nice taste of success before killing me off – maybe even helping me plant some seeds for posterity, so that i will be remembered when i go.
yes, i am aware how dark that sounds. i have scans next week, and i’m going to find out if the drugs are actually working. i’m sorry (but not sorry) to those of you who have been singing your ‘stay positive’ mantras in my ear. i really AM staying positive. most of the time. but, i mean, i have stage fucking four cancer. there is always, ALWAYS the fear that i could die. i’m sorry if that scares you. guarantee it scares me more.
anyway, back to the a-ha moment. so my therapist smiles at me and says, ‘jen… have you thought that, just maybe, these successes are the result of years and years of hard work… that the universe has nothing to do with it… that CANCER has nothing to do with it?’ i was going to retort something along the lines of, ‘then why NOW?’ and then i realized that i have spent more time in the last two months in the writing chair, focused on my career goals, than the past two years combined. a-ha!
i had this other affirmation this week – one which, in fact, ties the career thing to the cancer thing. i was inducted into a secret society. i can’t say too much about it, hence the word ‘secret’, but it’s basically a support group for working artists who are battling illnesses and disabilities. the group of people who make up in this community are awe-inspiring, and i feel so humbled and honored to be included in this group. but even more so, i feel lucky to have a space where people can directly relate to aforementioned a-ha moment. people who – although the work they are producing might be directly related to their illness or disability, are not creating because of the illness, are not creating despite the illness. the best thing about being part of this group, so far, is the knowledge that nobody there is going to bat sympathy eyes at me. empathy – hell yes. pity – hell no.
so, on another note, and this was a big part of what got me out of bed at an ungodly hour, and for those of you who have been consistently reading my blog, it’s an idea that i know i’ve written about ad nauseam. this one was more of an ‘mmm-hmmm’ moment.
i had a conversation this week with someone i am extremely close to. i mean, short short list close to. she said,
‘i heard you’re not feeling so well this week. what’s going on? are you ok?’
to which i replied,
‘yeah, it’s been rough, but nothing really beyond what i wrote about in my blog.’
i said this assuming she had read it. assuming that she has been reading my blog all along. i had no reason NOT to think that. let me note here that this is someone who loves to read. someone to whom i have sent chapters of my novels and my newest personal essays to in the past because she is insightful and intelligent and has always believed in me as a writer. not to mention that i am also on her short short list of close kinfolk.
she said, ‘oh. i don’t read your blog. i just get the updates from <insert name>’ (my intention is not to OUT her here it’s just to illustrate a point).
i chuckled despite the blow and said, ‘wow, THAT’S what <insert name> took away from a blog post that was 90% filled with all of the positive things happening in my life? that i don’t feel well?’
then i made what was hopefully taken as a non-passive aggressive suggestion that she read my blog herself.
to which she responded, ‘i don’t really do the facebook thing that often.’
i gently explained that my blog has nothing to do with facebook, i just happen to share the link to blog there to reach more people. i told her i’d be happy to email her a link to the blog and that there is a button she could click on if she wanted to be alerted when i posted something new. and then i went on to do the very thing i have said time and again (in my blog) that i didn’t want to do – spend my limited one on one time with this short short list person rehashing the details of my treatment progress, stone skipping past all of the real feelings and fears and hopes because, well, apparently she is just interested in the abridged version.
in the three months since i started my cancer blog, i’ve had about 7,500 views (clicks) and 3,500 visits (reads), almost half of which were in the first few weeks after posting.. i attribute that huge initial number of views to – first, and foremost- genuine concern from people who care about me and want(ed) to know what was going on. i’m sure some of the views, likely by acquaintances, were akin to driving past a bad car accident and slowing down to look out of morbid curiosity. there are a total of 34 people following this blog, about one-third of whom are strangers whose lives are or have been affected by cancer.
i wish i could say that i couldn’t care less about these statistics. i do care. especially when it comes to people like this example i’ve just used. i’m spending hours and hours carefully crafting these entries, baring my deepest fears, sharing intimate details of my life, of my relationship with myself, of how cancer is affecting my mind, body, spirit, and you (she), someone who i know deeply loves me, cannot take 15 minutes every week or two to hear what i’ve got to say? can’t click a button that will let her know when i have new information?
i guess i’m preaching to the choir, right? because if you’re here, reading this, you did click. i just don’t know how to tell this person to ‘stop asking questions i’ve already taken SO much time to answer. if you really want to know, read the damn blog’ without sounding like a self-important bitch. and, also, considering this person is someone who has shown great interest in my writing through the years – well, this is some of the most rewarding writing i’ve ever done. i’m really proud of what i’m writing here and i want to share it with her.
if you’re reading this, and you know her, can you tell her for me?
i’ll end on a super positive note. just found out my film is going to be screened in brooklyn this week. i’m so excited. we just finished the new (and final) cut, and this is the first time i’ll see it on a really big screen juxtaposed against other shorts in a space full of strangers. it will also be my first time doing a Q&A, which terrifies me. in a good way. how wonderful to have that good kind of terrified in my life this week to (hopefully) overshadow the bad kind of terrified that laces my every thought. fingers crossed that my body cooperates and allows me to participate in this monumental event as ‘jen’ and not as the jenzombie i’ve felt like recently.