a-ha vs. mmm-hmmm

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.’

mmm-hmmm.

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.

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7 Responses to a-ha vs. mmm-hmmm

  1. Diana says:

    jen.
    First of all, I’m happy for all of the positivity coming your way. I’m excited for you. Good luck with the q and a. You’ll be great.
    You haven’t mentioned the music. I realize that it’s not your own music, but it’s good. I love to hear you sing.
    I hate it when aha moments happen early in the am but you take them when you get them! I appreciate your blog. I feel many emotions while I’m reading but mostly I’m glad that there’s lots of good mixed in with the scary. You’re living a full life in between the hard stuff. The cancer sucks but you are putting one foot in front of the other every day and living your life, achieving goals, dreaming, having ups and downs, meeting new people, dating, laughing, crying, and singing like the rest of us. You’re seizing the day, the best you can, and it’s impressive. I feel lucky to be getting to know you.

    See you soon,
    DD

    Liked by 1 person

  2. li88yinc says:

    I’ve been reading. I like your style. I only know you from your writing. Cancer sucks but you are pretty neat.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kelly says:

    I, for one, have started to “follow your blog – just as of reading this entry. So, thank you for explaining to me how to do that. Duh. 🙂 I have watched two family members battle the big “c” in the last two years, and I can say the hardest personal part was admitting that they were going through something that I couldn’t help control. Perhaps that is a bad excuse for not reading your blog, but perhaps that is what it is. Watching someone you know go through something so extreme is tough, and of course, it is necessary to remind yourself often that “heck, i’m not the one actually going through it.” It’s a selfish way of thinking, but it is hard to grasp what is actually happening to that person. It may feel safer to just stand back and hope that next time you ask “How are you feeling?” the reply is “Great. All’s good.” Keep up the writing, lady. People are reading, and people are paying attention. It just may take a little bit for everyone to come around to grasping the reality of the situation. You are amazing. Keep kicking ass.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lucy says:

    i so get this!! Jen you are such a good writer and i mean that as someone who doesn’t say that very often at all, actually can’t remember last time i did. and i so know what you mean. and… i can’t wait to hang properly. maybe we can have a virtual skype hang. or maybe you should just keepwriting these thoughts because for the people who do read them now, and I think many will get to them if not immediately… and I too have been getting such a kick out of that secret group this week — honestly I think you were the most important part of that for me, because you brought such energy to it… and the other best part of my week was watching the link to your film, honestly. so, THANK YOU. and i have so much love, respect, and appreciation for you and how you’re handing it all and also your work. i too sometimes struggle with the thoughts that surely with all that i’ve been through lately it’s some kind of evil plot of the universe, and then i keep coming back to a place where i know there’s something larger going on that isn’t evil, even if it is in the present moment almost unbearably unbearable… and one little tiny tool btw that i use to flip my perspective is carol k anthony’s i ching – just to be a bit silly and suggest one tool that i find ridiculously helpful.. there’s even an app called “Yi Jing” where you can set the “library” to Carol K ANthony and I might have to show it to you because I find it so helpful, that and my yoga teacher who reads Rumi while we do the easiest yoga in the world, and yet the most helpful in terms of putting me back into that larger awareness that I so need… let’s chat! and i’ll be in nyc in a month or so… and sending hugest love right now… oh and also the other part of my week that was the best was the Good Day song you shared!! xxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sandi says:

    I look forward to your blogs and was very happy to see one so soon after the last entry. You are a good writer and your cancer journey is an eye opening read. You tell it
    like it is, no holds barred, straight out and true.
    A Brooklyn screening? Wow.
    Keep writing the music too. Share that talent.
    Oh….. I’m getting used to the lack of upper case letters and punctuation. I’m way too old school.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ronnie levin says:

    wow…a brooklyn screening…..only the best things are happening in brooklyn! i was born there…and now.since brooklyn has become so gentrified….it is a great omen…….your ride…being on a roller coaster and not being strapped in…..your life is quite a ride!

    Like

  7. Hilaryful says:

    I love that you are on my short list xoxoxi

    Like

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