Human icons normally don’t hit my particular radar.I’m not big on movie stars or entertainers and think even less of celebrities, particularly since they tend to be so uneducated and high maintenance and when you come down to it, pretty darn useless as human beings.Not like the Housewives of Anywhere are busy hosting fundraisers to rid the world of cancer.
I don’t give high tech much thought, mostly because I live, breathe and eat it every day.
But I do give credit where it is due; mostly to Steven Jobs whom I admire and respect far less for his outstanding technology accomplishments and the way he has nearly single-handedly reshaped the way consumers relate and use technology. No, I respect him far more for just being here with us still.
Ever since Jobs announced his resignation from Apple as that Company’s yes, Iconic CEO, the speculation about his health has frankly been exhausting.I get it, we are all frankly scared for the man.Me, more than most because I know just how difficult the battle with cancer can be and Jobs has battled a far more virulent form of cancer than I did. And on top of it, he’s had a liver transplant so he has all that to contend with.
Yes, the man doesn’t look robust. He frankly looks exhausted and gaunt in that chemo-ravaged way in recent photos but give him a break.He’s got somebody else’s liver to content with and he’s battled a rare form of cancer.On top of this, the man has the nerve to remain private about his health.Give him a break, please.
Everyone wants to know what I think.Like I’m some expert because I had breast cancer and am still around to tell the tale.Fact is, I don’t know. I know so little about Job’s rare form of cancer that it would not prudent of me to speculate.
I leave that to the drama-drenched media who cannot seem to let the man live his life in peace.
But if it is true that he’s battling the cancer again, then let me say it once more.The media needs to leave the man in peace.Very few have a clue how many split-second, life-altering decisions someone who is battling cancer must make. You get very little time, even if you are Steven Jobs, to make major medical decisions so if it is true that he may be out of remission then that’s even more reason to leave the man alone.
Here is my hope for the man:He brought Apple back from the brink of oblivion.If he’s fighting cancer again, may he give the world, his wife and family in particular, another miracle of a more personal nature. Because when you have fought cancer, family and loved ones are all that really matters.
My kid is going through it.Buying a house the first time is supposed to be an exciting, thrilling, start-of-a-bright-future experience but in reality, its intrusive, nail biting, painful and stressful beyond all reason.My daughter and her husband just found out that the home of their dreams, a wretched short sale, probably won’t go through. Not because of anything they did, they were approved in record time actually. But because there are two banks involved and they refuse to budge on who is going to eat what part of the loan(s).Banks know their numbers. My best guess is that if one or the other doesn’t get a certain amount out of the sale, it’s more cost effective to foreclose because of the tax break.Now even an institution named Fannie something is involved and they aren’t playing around. My kid is very upset but I give my girl credit, minutes after she got the word, I found her on her computer, looking at other listings.She had already picked herself up, dusted off her disappointment and had started with Plan B.She texted her real estate agent and made an appointment for going back to look at new listings next week.She was upset, clearly, but back to my theme of the week; she had perspective.
After going through cancer with me, there is little that can rattle my daughter these days.She gets more upset than I do but I attribute that to youth and temperament.Even so, she works through set-backs and disappointments in a more mature, focused manner than she ever did, pre-cancer.She knows there are worse things that can happen than two greedy banks slugging it out and she and her family losing a house in the process.
There will always be another house is my motto.
Meanwhile, perspective folks, my kid has it in spades these days.When her daughter Claudia tried to swing a tiny little leg up onto the couch for the very first time, my daughter actually cried.It was a milestone that most parents wouldn’t get emotional over but everything little CJ does is celebrated and cooed over.Even the new car seat gave way to a moment of misty eyes and winsome reflection. The baby is growing up!We all had perspective when my six year old refrigerator died an inglorious death. The motherboard, the fan AND even the starter motor all committed major appliance suicide at the same time. I would have bought a new fridge save for the fact that the one I had was a gift from my boyfriend who bought at a time when I had no time to research and buy one myself.It was an incredibly thoughtful thing to do and this makes me loathe to toss it out even though I likely berated the poor appliance repairman about how things used to last thirty years not so long ago.
He probably already knows this, come to think on it.Anyway, we all decided to suck it up, wait for the new parts and make do with a secondary fridge that is a shade bigger than what college students used to store cheap alcohol and take-out food in.At least, I told my family, I now know what it will be like when I get that bazillion dollar apartment in Paris.The refrigerators are pretty darn small in Paris.The ambiance is worth it though.And there is no such thing as a mediocre meal in Paris (it’s illegal or something) so why not eat out all the time?Those Parisians, they know how to live.
Speaking of Paris, I’m actually headed there. Yes, yes, I must have a really awful job so poor me, right?My business trip actually dead ends in Paris and it turns out, it is far cheaper to stay an extra day than to try and fly home on a Friday or Saturday so looks like I’m stuck in the City of Lights for the weekend.
My BFF gets it.We were having her birthday celebration over the weekend and she asked what I planned to do with my spare time in Paris.Aside from stashing away frankly contraband French cheese and rapidly going stale baguettes in my suit case, I told her I would be buying every single color I could find of teeny, weenie French berets for Claudia because that’s what the babies on the catwalks were wearing this season.
For real? She asked between forkfuls of amazing salad.We were, after all, at Chez Panisse for this celebration.No, not for real, I scoffed. I will actually have no idea what fashionable French and Italian babies are wearing until I get to Europe.
But what else will occupy my time she pressed.Ah, for that we return to, say it with me, perspective.
This I will surely find at Sunday mass at Notre Dame Cathedral or while tearing up while gazing at the works of master artists at The Louvre.But for all my travel plans the fact remains that after cancer, I don’t need to go all the way to Paris to find perspective.
Remind me never to tell post anything on my FaceBook that remotely hints at me having had a really bad day.I seldom do this but yesterday sucked in infamy so really, the number of frantic emails hastily sent asking if I was, ‘ok’ or if I had, ‘received bad health news’ was frankly as heartwarming as they were disturbing.
I’m fine, really.
I have very few truly bad days nowadays and this is because, wait for it….yes, I have perspective.Perspective is the gift that just keeps on giving.Yesterday was truly uncomfortable and political and difficult and took a lot of finesse and tact (never my strong suit) and all that while under a lot of pressure but I got through it and it was still, as rotten as it was, a far cry from the day I was told the cancer had spread so yes, perspective folks.
“Well,” I said to the faucet as I soaked in a steaming hot bath, seriously rethinking my life, “At least I have my hair.”
That was huge.
Yup, terrible day but my hair was still growing and all there so one point for the cancer survivor.
“And,” I reminded the gently bobbing battalion, badelyngeif you will, of elite rubber duckies that my grand-daughter Claudia insists on keeping in my tub, “I didn’t get cancer again.”
That made it two.The ducks were keeping count, I could totally tell.
“Plus,” I intoned thoughtfully to the squeaky froggy that Claudia loves to bite and babble to, “I did not have to do chemo.”
The frog had no comment.
But with that, the day from hell totally faded back into reality, something I could very much manage once I got my head wrapped around the various issues and problems.I just needed perspective and having fought cancer, I got it, along with water logged fingers and a restless night of tossing and turning.
Hey, I said I had perspective, not that I was over it or anything.
Because I went through my battle with cancer, I’m surprisingly not big on miracles.I think you have to nearly die, as evidenced by chemo and the other brutal treatments we survivors have endured, in order to live.
I don’t put much stock in miracles.I’m more about proven medical protocols.
I don’t go seeking miracles and I don’t think they happen every often but even so, I got one today, I really and truly did.
My daughter called me today, clearly distraught.Her BFF, 14 weeks into a seemingly blissful second pregnancy, received grim news at her OB check up.No heart beat.There had been one last time but it was gone and with it seemingly a lot of plans and hope.My daughter was praying I’d give her some optimistic thoughts on this but I knew better; no heartbeat usually means the baby didn’t make it.Failure to thrive or, the fetus is no longer viable....these are things that the doctors usually say.It’s heartbreaking and I could not stand the suffering and pain for Christina, her BFF.I wanted to cry.I felt helpless and genuine mourning.Christina is a wonderful mother to little April.They were hoping for a boy this time around.This pregnancy had even been different, mild and comforting, not wildly hormonal and uncomfortable like her first.This was a baby so very much wanted and loved from the first line on the pregnancy stick.
It was so unfair.
And then, hope against hope, a miracle.A genuine, baby bootied miracle.Seems our girl had a tremendous amount of scar tissue built up from her c-section and this was the reason the doctors could not detect the little one’s heartbeat.After an anxious but heartwarming ultrasound, they broke out the specialized equipment and yes, Houston, We Have A Heartbeat. Even the doctors said it was one in a million.
And I’ll take it.I guess I needed to be reminded that, despite the randomness and unfairness of cancer, miracles do happen and they come in all shapes and sizes, forms and functions.I was so prepared for the worst, so used to hearing bad news or guardedly ‘optimistic’ news that was really some doctor just sitting on the fence, that an out and out miracle just wasn’t something I could even hope to entertain.But when my daughter called, the good news spilling into my lap like so many gold coins, I was so joyous.
And ironically this occurred the same day my daer friend Frank from the UK told me he was FINALLY going to be a grandfather.He won’t admit it but he’s probably been a bit jealous since Baby CJ came along.I understand.Having a baby in the family is the most wondrous thing of all. How fun is all this, I cannot wait to go shopping for everyone.
Frankly, it would be a miracle if I didn’t want to go shopping but today, it’s even more special, two babies in one day.One a gentle surprise and the other a downright miracle.
The list of things we won’t tolerate, post cancer, is growing quite impressive.So far, it includes:
·People who hurt or abuse animals, children, or anything smaller or weaker than they. Of course, we all agree on this one.
·People who cannot make up their minds in the line at Starbucks, or Noah’s bagles.People, it’s just coffee and a bagel for pity’s sake. If you are dithering between a mocha frappy lite with soy milk versus a non-fat frozen hazelnut latte for more than a split second, then you have serious issues and more to the point, you are cutting into my valuable time.One doesn’t generally see this kind of behavior at airports, nobody has time, the plane is about to leave so just give me a coffee black and one of those muffin-y things, point, point, tap, tap. It’s much easier to work at Starbucks at the airport.
·Being put on hold, nothing new about that.
·Having to push 87 prompt buttons to get to a real live voice who then? Puts you on hold.
·People who don’t know how to travel, there is an entire population of people out there who should be banned from traveling.They include:
oImbeciles who grab your seat from behind and pull your hair.Over and over again.
oPeople who snore really loudly while napping on planes.You know who you are, you can travel but you don’t get to nap.
oMen who refuse to help their wives with screaming babies.They can always be found seven rows behind their hapless spouses, pretending they don’t know their wive or their sobbing children, snoring.
oWomen who refuse to walk their screaming, squirming toddlers on 16 hour flights to Asia.I know who you all are.You are all the same, vacant eyed women who wordlessly turn your kids over to your moms the second the plane lands and you get through customs.And you all say nothing when grandma starts cooing about how good the baby is being.Of course the baby is being good; the baby screamed for 16 solid hours.He/She is all screamed out.Plus, Grandma’s in the house.I hate each and every one of you.
oAdults who get mad when I won’t let their kid play with my expensive, company-owned lap top.And those who are clearly peeved when I refuse to baby sit or entertain junior.Last time I looked, my services were out of your price range.
oPeople who allow their kids to kick the back of my seat for 16 solid hours and get angry when I ask them to stop their child.I am not a punching bag, you selfish sots.Restrain your child or I will have the pilot drop you off over the Atlantic.
oBlue-haired travelers (this is by special request for my buddy Chris at work).BHT’s take forever to unload everything metal during security checks and are not in a hurry.Please refer back to my blog entitled Family Fly Day.People, people, Chris is in sales and by definition that means he does not generally waste his time or anybody else’s time. So, if you are visiting your Uncle Myron in Boca Raton, for the love of God, do it on Family Fly Day. Please.
·People who brutalize produce.Specifically, those grocery terrorists who husk the corn at the grocery stores, and throw it back in the pile.This results in mass corn cob hysteria. You can only get away with this if you are 85, female, widowed, Italian and living in Italy, people.Everywhere else, you must refrain from stripping the corn naked.I’m sick of the silk sticking to my shoes and I refuse to buy emotionally disturbed corn.
·People who attend hockey games without knowing, or abiding by, The Rules.These include:
oPeople who stand up during the action.This constitutes a huge violation in hockey etiquette and in some parts of Canada, can get you killed or worse; exiled to Manitoba in the winter.
oPeople who kick your seat or let their kids do it.My BFF and I have taken Baby CJ to a number of hockey games and we do now allow her to bother anyone but us.
oDrunks.For pity’s sake NHL hockey is not played in a remote village in Russia so do not get to slug back six vodka-laced highballs, stagger to your seat, and hit the person in front of you with a half open bottle of beer, thinking nothing will come of it.This actually happened to me at a Sharks game.Thankfully, it was pre-Baby CJ but I actually suffered a concussion from the blow.I now know how hockey players feel.
oMen who didn’t grow up with hockey but still act like they are experts.If you don’t know the game, then you don’t know the game.Thus, you do not get to lean forward, tap me on the shoulder every two minutes and lecture me on icing (when it was really an offside call, you moron).First, I don’t need your input and second, well, you’re an idiot.This is generally when my BFF and I indulge in our favorite little hockey prank which basically goes this way:
§We tell the intrusive idiot who is pestering us that we don’t need to know about the game because we actually played in the 1980 Olympics on the USA Women’s Team.Yes, the person bugging us is told he is in the presence of two former Olympic women’s ice hockey champions.I played defense and my BFF was star goalie.We wax poetic about the brawls I had with one female Finnish defense player and how I received several very controversial game penalties but how we still took the gold.
§We really enjoy this prank because the man in our sites always nods vigorously and a few even have said they remember us.We have even been asked for our autographs, seriously.Mind you, women’s hockey did not become an Olympic sport until 1998.I often wish more moronic twits would do this to us because at the end of the game, we really enjoy telling the guy who acted like he knew all about hockey this little fact.History folks, it’s really important.
·People who obviously have a very high opinion of themselves when it is clearly not warranted.Better to be realistic, we all have flaws.
·Celebrities.We who have survived cancer have had enough drama and crisis and attention to last a lifetime.We are not impressed by the time, attention and sheer CRAP drama-drenched celebrities create by acting out in public and then trying to undo their stupidity by going to rehab.Entertainers and artists of their craft are an entirely different animal.Definition:Meryl Streep is an entertainer, an artist at her craft.Lindsay Lohan is a celebrity.Get the difference?
·Reality television.Just when you thought television programming could sink no lower, along came reality TV with strange antics on remote islands and uncouth people with spray tans, huge hair and talon-like nails from New Jersey and paling around with somebody whose name starts with a K and who doesn’t seem to have any particular talent or reason for being…we cancer survivors just don’t GET IT. And to top it off, the networks, both cable and mainstream, just keep on doing this.Oh sure, there is the occasional quirky show that’s interesting such as Ice Road Truckers, but they are few and far between.Honestly, what some bleached out, liposuctioned housewife in New York City is doing between manicures and martinis does not interest me in the least.And I don’t believe that any bachelor or bachelorette play acting at dating has entertainment value.Contest-related shows such as DWTS, Project Runway or Top Chef are different.They can be fun because like a sport, you get to root for your favorite team or person. Sure there is all sorts of trumped up and badly acted drama but at least there is fashion or food or a modestly done fandango at the end of it.I’m just not sure what purpose reality television people serve.
·The DMV.Need I say more?This place is still around by the way and occasionally, when you cannot deal with them on line, you are still forced to physically go in to some dank and dirty location and take a number though they claim you can make an appointment too.We cancer survivors don’t have time to loiter around the DMV.At least that’s how I see it. (I will do a separate blog on how to get out of jury duty; one of the few perks of being a cancer survivor).
·People who complain about things that they cannot tolerate any longer.Thank goodness that’s not us.
I keep myself mentally fit by plotting to overthrow of modern civilization as we know it.Unlike in my real world, where logistics and details are my forte, I am never actually quite sure how I am going to accomplish this. I only know that that I must do it at some point because we seriously need to relocate all the idiots in this world to some deserted island and I nominate myself to be in charge to make that happen.
I’m thinking the driest place on earth will do which (and this little known factoid could win you mega bucks on Jeopardy, folks) is actually Antarctica.Think about it, it never rains in Antarctica does it?I rest my case.Now, it is admittedly a bit chilly there right now but geologists swear it was once a lush and green tropical paradise and will be again someday because Mother Earth is finicky that way and has what the solar system likes to think is: A Sense Of Humor.Even if Old Mamma Earth tilts on her axis and heaves her oceans, it’s still going to be a couple of million years before we see Tokyo prices on the beachfront properties of Antarctica.And I’m pretty sure most of us are going to be suing a bunch of penguin slumlords by then too.
I cannot have morons killed because my belief system — such that it is, does not allow killing outright.Put on a slow spaceship to Jupiter, sure, sure, that’s ok in my book, but I can’t kill them outright.Heck, even the poor dog gets put on a puppy time out if she squashes a bug and I hate bugs.And yes, Jupiter is pretty toasty when compared to Earth; 390 degrees Celsius or 680 degrees Fahrenheit is the average.Just trying to send these folks the right message is all.
I never used to be this way.I was nice actually.Well, nicer.I no longer have patience or tolerance for stupidity, rudeness, ignorance and worse of all, bad customer service.This means that if my desktop at home or some other major electronic appliance goes belly up, I’ll just have to buy another one because I’m not getting on the phone with somebody from India and screaming at them because truly, they are impressively bullet proof when it comes to being screamed at.Case in point, this woman continues to cold call me every week about some software program she is selling.The thing is, the software has nothing to do with my company or our business.We can’t use it, it just has no value or valid application in our company.I have told her this, oh, going on 50 times (I told you, she calls me every week). I am actually not even the right person to harass, she should be harassing the IT folks but for some odd reason, she likes me more.So, for at least another two months, week after week, I told her to take me off her call list.By the end of that time frame, I wasn’t being very nice. I finally told her I was simply going to hang up on her next time.
She called me a week later.
Now, don’t get me wrong, she’s not challenged by the language or remotely stupid, not really. She’s just an idiot.She refuses to take no for an answer or maybe she’s paid by the calls she makes. I don’t know but if I get my way, she’s first on the space ship to Jupiter because I’m really sick and tried of repeating myself.
And this is but one example. Time is precious folks. I have a lot to do and clearly, after surviving cancer, I have the feeling that my time may not be the 999 years I was thinking I had. At least that’s the way I was acting, like I had all the time in the world.Since recovering from cancer, I’ve edited that down to a measly 99 years so I had better hurry the heck up is how I see things.
So, I’m going to put this out there, because I’m actually curious, for you cancer survivors especially but anyone can answer; what (crap) is it that you will no longer put up with?
Babies are magic, pure magic.They are honest, pure, untainted.They have a sense of humor.They trust.They love unconditionally.
I love babies.This is why when somebody’s beloved, precious child getting hurt, however unintentionally, it makes me sick to my stomach.Literally.
A thought on bouncy houses, folks: the littlest tots should be treated like they are going to Disneyland or another amusement park, with posted signs: You Must Be THIS TALL to ride this ride…that sort of thing. Or at least set aside special bouncy times just for the little ones to bounce other wise somebody small is going to be accidentally trounced on by a big brother or a cousin and actually yes, break a collarbone.
I only wish it had been me.
Accidents happen and anyone who has had kids knows this.Kids play, they roughhouse, so kids obviously get hurt.My beau the Fire Captain likes to remind me that in his considerable experience, if a child is screaming bloody murder after being hurt, they are likely going to be fine.If not, you’ve got something to worry about.And yes, the toddler in question was screaming pretty loud after her brother/cousin/relative landed on her collarbone.And although she’s going to be fine we all still feel so darn guilty.Me for turning away from the bouncy house antics to find my daughter in a thick crowd, because I had an exhausted, inch-from-melting down, Baby CJ on my hip and thought it was time to take her home….my son-in-law for being inside the bouncy house when his tiny cousin got hurt…my daughter for having the idea that a bouncy house should be rented in the first place.The list goes on and on, we all feel so darn guilty.
But babies don’t feel guilty.Nor do they hold a grudge. Babies, like dogs, just love you completely and freely.They don’t brood or worry overly much.My granddaughter is the only person I know who looks at me with a happy, beaming expression when I come back from seeing my oncologist.She remains blissfully untouched by my fight with cancer and doesn't know that I could be bearing good or bad news.She just knows that she loves me and, like the puppy, she is thrilled to see me.
I never see fear lingering behind Claudia’s sapphire blue eyes, only joy.The specter of my having fought cancer never haunts her, she’s just….happy. If there was one element of childhood that I wish adults could all retain as they grow up, it’s the pure joy that I see in that baby. So, right after the bouncy house incident, when I sank down on a picnic bench, terrified, guilty, upset, and clearly distraught, Baby Claudia did the only thing necessary. She put her tiny arms around my neck, thoughtfully patted my cheek and hugged me tight.