Friday, June 29, 2007

I See Dead Actors

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just too sensitive, but does this seem like the era of peace and love is now officially very very dead?...Paul McCartney playing a set at Amoeba Music in Hollywood for people like Michael Eisner and playing tunes from a CD he sold at Starbucks! I can imagine the other Hollywood happening people who were there rocking like maniacs in a morgue...(Baby you Can Drive My Car...My Bentley!) Or how about the crowd who went to see Prince at the Hollywood Roosevelt the other night. For two thousand bucks a pop. It's like that great line from Diner, when the girl on the horse tells Mickey Roarke that her last name is Chisolm. "Like the Chisolm Trail." And Mickey turns to his friend and says, "Do you ever have the feeling there's something going on out there we don't know about?"
I have to take this thing about people telling you about relatives with cancer one step further. For some reason very nice people seem to want to introduce you to other people with cancer. So you could be maybe cancer buddies. That's sort of like meeting an African American person and saying that you'd love to introduce them to some other people of color that you know. You are not defined by your cancer or your color, unless you're Al Sharpton or Don Imus who is very white and very dehydrated. I seem to be the same person. I wake up every morning wondering why no one has yet impeached Dick Cheney. I still worry about how we're going to get out of Iraq and which candidate is actually really good and really capable. And always, always I worry about my son even though there really is nothing to worry about at this point. Except airplanes and cars and poison from China and diseases and madmen and madwomen and the strange absense of bees. (That one is very troublesome.) So it seems like my cancer is just another neurotic fear to add to my list. Honestly, it's as if I was sitting here all these years thinking, "So what's the worst that could happen? Cancer?" Just waiting for the horror to happen. Must be a Jewish thing. And sometimes we are very right about that feeling of doom.
So I was talking with a friend and we decided to go and see a movie and we wanted to go see that Chick Flick with Meryl Streep and Vanessa Redgrave, even though the reviews aren't so hot. But here's the problem. Somebody dies. I don't know if it's Redgrave or Streep, but the question arises whether or not I should "subject" myself to death movies. Not cartoon deaths like the Bruce Willis movie, but soap opera deaths. For instance, should I rent Terms of Endearment? Should I watch Debra Winger say goodbye to her cute little kids? And here's what I think...In a movie, laughing, then death is a good thing. Crying all the way through, and then death, is a bad thing. Greta Garbo dying, a bad thing. All that coughing and looking so pale and wan is such a downer. I remember DeNiro died in Bang the Drum Slowly. Sad movie. Good movie. But Al Pacino did a bad movie where he ran his fingers through his girlfriend's hair and it all fell out in his hand. And for those who can remember the movie Love Story, that one was enough to make you shout at the screen, "Someone please kill that woman, now! She can't act! She's a lox!" Or how about Ratso Rizzo dying in the bus on the way to Florida and coconuts. Now that was sad.
Now here's a crazy part. I went to see that movie Knocked Up. Very funny. And you know what made me sad? The birth. I was sadder watching the birth in that movie than I would ever be watching a death. I've done my birth. And it was wonderful. And I can't ever do it again. Those days are over for me. But death I can do. Haven't done that yet. At least as far as I know. Though I have had a past life sort of experience once but it was only about feeling like I had been someone that I met the day before. Or maybe I just wanted to be her.
Comedy then death. For those of us lucky enough not to live in Iraq or Darfur or New Orleans, that is definitely the way to go.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


ALIVE! ALIVE! Yes, I can eat now. Which is a strange thing to be saying coming from a girl who has spent her entire life trying not to share the low to the ground and very round girth of her Russian ancestors. (Whom she loved.) But due to the frighteningly quick response upon drinking some unknown liquid, I have gotten back my appetite and crave everything unhealthy and yummy. I also started to think about sex. Not with me, necessarily, but for some reason my mind went right to my Uncle Melvin. My dad's youngest brother. He was a crazy, rudderless guy who died young from smoking which was probably a blessing. The last thing he owned was a 99 cents store in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, where nothing anywhere in town cost more than 99 cents. And you could get everything you wanted at the local Kroger. Even plastic shoes for a buck fifty. My father thought those plastic shoes were a real bargain. He'd buy half a dozen at a time. Now you are talking about a guy who ran a little printing company in Chicago and wore a suit and tie to work everyday and looked very respectable and in charge...Until you glanced under his desk. His pathetic shoes were held together with velcro. He looked like a very large six year old. But they were a bargain. I tried to convince him that a bargain and just plain cheap were two different things but it didn't penetrate. And then there was the time he went to get his pants shortened and the tailor had a bright RED sports jacket hanging up and he told my dad that Wayne Newton had left it there. My dad tried it on and said, "Wayne Newton, huh? I'll take it." Between the red jacket and the plastic shoes he looked like he should either be in a shelter or performing in a lounge in Reno. He was not a vain man.
Back to Melvin... He was a handsome devil who could never get his shit together. He sold brushes, he sold handkerchiefs and then finally he had this store. The Bargain Barn. And he and his partner decided that they had to have an "event" to attract the people of Beaver Falls. Now the partner was a guy named Harry Gubitz and Harry was insane. His idea to get them on the map was to have Harry wear his bowler hat and stand on his head in front of the store and spin...On the hat. And he did that. He stood on his head and he spun. For days. While my Uncle stood outside smoking his beloved Camels and cheering Harry on and waiting for a customer to walk by. I happened to be in Beaver Falls the week of the spin and my cousins and I had to watch Harry and clap and scream and say how amazing it all was. Even at ten I knew that Harry was insane and if I were a customer I would be afraid to go into that store.
But this all started with me thinking about sex. So my Uncle Melvin had one joke that he told everytime he saw me...Or anyone. He would put his hands in his pants pocket, feel around for a while, then say..."When did I buy plums?" Well, the joke sounded sexy to a ten year old.
I am realizing while I write this that going from sex to Uncle Melvin is pretty much a turn off to most men. But it wasn't always like this. After all, I did sleep with you know who. Raise your hand if that's all you care about on this blog...Aha...Suddenly I feel cheaper than a plastic shoe.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Blogless in Santa Monica

Sorry I didn't make it yesterday. I got off to such a slow start that yesterday actually didn't start until today. But here I am and I just ate a cup of macaroni and cheese and now I'm on mac watch to see if the two of us are friends or if he's going to tell me he loves me and then make me spend the rest of the day in the bathroom wondering where we went wrong.

The guy who brought bratwurst to America died today. He was 92. How does a thing like that happen? I mean, this guy brought a sausage all the way from Poland to America and probably on a boat and you'd think it would lose it's flavor somewhere mid Atlantic and at least smell bad but he lands with his sausage and people say that's fabulous and he ends up with a half page obit. I've always said that what I would like on my tombstone would be a quote from a review I got years ago...Trish Soodik - "marvelously remote as the schizo."
Okay, I want you to raise your hands if this cancer stuff is boring you...Aha. I feel the same way. It's very odd, this period of time in between poisonings, where you have three weeks to get back to some semblance of normalcy, at which point they will poison you again. But I am trying to act like a normal person. Laughing. Haha. Laughing is good. Haha. Oh, I know that is completely phony but I'm trying. I am also trying to seize the day but you know, that is not so easy. I mean, I do appreciate the beauty and the kindness and the sweetness of little children, but when an asshole behind me honks even when the light is red, I am not enlightened enough to breath deeply and let it go. I want to jump out of the car and strangle him. I think that's a good thing, though, because without that you are a monk and since all I want to do is to get back to being me, suddenly becoming a monk would be very off putting. Hmmm, pudding, maybe I could eat pudding.
Here are two things lovely people who mean well do when you tell them what you've got...They 1.) Tell you all the things you should and should not eat. And
2.) They tell you about a relative who's had cancer. Yesterday, this sweet guy up at the pool told me about his sister who had a tumor at the back of her neck, and though she went blind, she is fine now. Was that supposed to make me feel better? She's blind! That is not a good thing. And then he told me about a friend who has been in remission for ten years and had almost every organ removed and he sits in a wheelchair all day and smokes pot and he's happy as a clam. I wanted to tie rocks to my feet and do what Tony Soprano's son couldn't do. What are people thinking? I know he thought of those as positive stories since those two people are still around...Sort of...But right now I am fairly healthy and the thought of going blind or pooping in a bag for the rest of my life is not encouraging. I just want to get back to being the same me who's been here for all these years. Not some new me who is all pasted and stapled together and stuffed with new straw like the Scarecrow. I'll bet that bratwurst man was happy as a clam. But truthfully, how happy can a clam actually be? Oh boy, this is when I know something is very wrong with me.

Hey, me and Mr. Macaroni seem to be getting along just fine. I believe I must count this as a red letter day. (And if you know what that means, please share.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

They're Talkin' to Me

I am not a daytime TV watcher. I've never seen Oprah though I've read her books. But yesterday I found myself half asleep on the couch and my thumb and I picked up the remote and found a little travel show. One of those pseudo journalists named Chuck Henry was island hopping and I thought, that looks like fun. So I watched Chuck hopping from hammock to hammock which was really all the cameraman seemed to be interested in...Chuck in a hammock. They'd show a little water and a little sand and everything looked pretty much looked the same until Chuck showed up in a new shirt. It wasn't really very informative but then they got to Fiji. And there was this guy on the island, he looked to be about 60, and he'd lived in Seattle until 30 years ago when he decided to make a bold move and live a dream. So he bought a Fiji island for half a million, which doesn't seem bad for an island considering for half a million you couldn't even buy a shack in Venice, and he's lived there ever since. And I was thinking, wow, what a brave guy. How fabulous is that to just go for it? And then they showed his wife... A beautiful little island wife who could not have been more than 16 years old and her three little ones who were all under the age of 6. And Chuck and the island man did a wild dance around a campfire and I decided that I will probably never go to Fiji.
And then good old Huell Howser was looking around Half Moon Bay and really searching for SOMETHING that might be interesting. And this sweet local lady showed him a barn. And Huell reacted with great enthusiasm as he always does. "Well, would you look at this! A barn! Look at these doors! And inside...Wow, there's enough room for...barn things! Would you look at this!" It was enough to make you want to slit your wrists. If I have to watch someone showing me the inside of an empty barn then I really am better off dead.
So I switched to the animal channel. That seemed like it might be relaxing and I love animals so what could be wrong with that. I tuned in just as a very attractive lizard was sticking out his tongue to grab an innocent little grasshopper and chew him to death. And while he was doing that a snake with very big eyes chomped on the lizard and bit his fucking head off, I kid you not. It was horrifying. And I decided that daytime TV was not a good thing for me.
This did not occur to me...Crazy fans google the name Robert DeNiro, and some of them come up with my blog. They do not seem like friendly people. I think they want to kill me. They must be the Taxi Driver fans. I got a comment on my blog that said..."You slept with DeNiro? You must be hot. Gimme your e-mail or I'll find you anyway. TB" I figured that TB must stand for Travis Bickle. Oh my gosh I can't believe I have to fear for my life in yet another way.
I swam today. The thumb seems better but the arm still hurts. Not eating much. But trying. Maybe I should chomp on a lizard.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Upside

So I was reading about Iran today in the New York Times. Not a good place to live. And I was thinking about their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Not a good guy. But I imagined him as a little boy, a little six or seven year old and the teacher asks all the kids to write down their names in Farsi cursive. And his name is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Not Ed Burns. Now right there is a reason to be pissed off. You've got to take your little pencil and try to write all those letters out and it goes on and on and by the time you're finished everyone else has already been to recess and back. No wonder he's an anti-Semitic scary person.
My friend and wonderful acupuncturist, Dr. Mao Shing-Ni told me that all of what I am going through is a good thing and I will come out the other end with new knowledge and a new vision of life. I said wouldn't the same thing have happened if I'd won the lottery and not have to go through this not so fun chemo business? And he said then I wouldn't have an inner journey. The most important kind. The lottery is just a material experience. He is so Chinese. And I am so Jewish. Inner-shminner. I have an inner journey everytime I do yoga. "Oy, how much longer do we have to hold this pose?" And..."Is downward facing dog a good look for me?" That's my inner journey. Dr. Mao is deep and Chinese and I am short and shallow.
Today I got my sorry ass out of bed and actually made it to the pool where I swim. It's an outdoor YMCA pool (yes Jews are allowed) and it's in a beautiful spot and I love it. I did a few crawl strokes and realized that the arm where I got my chemo drip was not working properly. It's hard to explain but it really hurt when it hit the water. And then there was my paralyzed thumb on the other hand so I had what at best could be described as a very spazy swim. But I did it. Forty laps. Very slowly. So that was good. My biggest problem still seems to be food. Just the thought of it makes me sick. But I have to keep my weight up so I am right now sipping on a Robecks juice which I know is not on the macrobiotic menu that I'm supposed to follow but it at least it has calories. I know to some of you gals out there the problem of not being able to eat sounds like not such a problem. But this is what I worry about...The thinner I get the more wrinkly my face will become. How sick is that? I have cancer and I'm worried about my fine lines. Oh, the vanity of us all.
I don't think I mentioned that I take four chemo pills a day. They look like little innocent things when you hold them in your hand but they turn into chemo poison in your body. I always stare at them before I take them and remember Jack Nicholson in Cuckoos Nest staring at the seditives they gave him that he would hide in his mouth and spit out furtively when the nasty nurse wasn't paying attention. But no one's trying to trick me. I don't think. So I take these pills and I do believe they make me feel yucky. I am not a pill person except for vitamins and I feel funny when I just take a tylenol so these little suckers, my poison cure, are certainly making me feel a little off center.
The upside of cancer is this...Hmmmm. I'll have to get back to you.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Thumb

So today after walking Gracie the Dog I decided I needed to get some exercise and I thought maybe I should try and swim tomorrow instead of today because of this weird cold sensitivity thing so I thought I'd walk. Down to the water. All I could think about while I was walking was that Russian guy who was poisoned, supposedly by Vladimar Putin. Now, I don't think Putin poisoned me but I kept thinking about that guy without his hair and looking like an alien and because I don't have much of an appetite right now I sort of felt like maybe I was beginning to look like him. I mean, hummus does not sustain life as far as I know and it's very hard to find something to eat that goes down well. Myrna made me soup and that's good and Joy brought over soup and hummus and there is this stuff called Ensure that is made of crap and doctors want you to drink it! Didn't they read the label? It's not actually food. It's chemicals. Cannot be good for a person. But beyond my appetite, which I am sure will come back and when it does I am going to drown in macaroni and cheese which is something I always avoid because it's so fattening but now that at least I don't have to worry about gaining weight, I'm going to line the cupboards with Kraft boxes after my operation. What I'm getting at is my thumb. My right thumb does not seem to work. Right now. I hope. I can type but I can't seemed to draw. Of course, I'm a terrible artist and I couldn't draw even when my thumb was fine so maybe I'll actually draw something interesting with a paralyzed thumb. But I must say that it is a very strange side effect. Other than that, on this second day out of chemo I just feel a bit tired. Like right then, between that last sentence and this one, I took a long pause where my mind fell asleep and I wrote an entire novel in my head, all at the same time. This also happened when I took acid in 1969 so maybe I'm having some kind of a flashback. A chemo/acid thing. I must say the acid was much more fun that the chemo and I wasn't fighting death...Or maybe I was. But it never felt that way. I had a great time running around Berkeley one night at three in the morning on acid and thousands of people were out, like in the middle of the day and THEY were all on acid too and everyone was friendly and happy and insane. Maybe if I could stay awake until three in the am there would be a bunch of chemo people out there all running around in their jammies having a great old time. I must say life is nothing if not interesting.

Friday, June 22, 2007

All righty, this is two days after I walked the dog and one day after my first chemo. And thank goodness this is not the type of chemo where your hair falls out and that is such a good thing because scarves are not a good look for me. I look like one of those apple dolls from Rumania. So hooray for something.
Yesterday I got up at six, swam at the outdoor Y pool that I love, then came home to get ready for the treatment. I don't know what is wrong with me but I spent at least a half an hour deciding what to wear...To chemo! This looks horrible, the colors not right, it's too young for me...And then the shoes don't even ask about them. But I finally chose white since it was the first day of summer and I thought black was too on the money and off I went to get poisoned.
This has all happened very quickly and I realize that some of you didn't even know about the diagnosis that happened about three weeks ago or about the vaginal ultrasound that was the most fun I've had since my husband left me in September. And I'm sure a lot of you are fainting now about that news so you can imagine how I felt when they told me I didn't just have a tiny stomach ache, I had a tumor. Malignant at that. On my stomach. But it's small, which is good and there seems to be no cancer anywhere else and I will have a smaller stomach when this is all over and that can't be a bad thing. We all want that, right?
(No DeNiro news today except that he had cancer but I don't think it was because of me.)
So I went to the office and sat in one of those barcaloungers with all these other sweet people at different fazes in the process. And I had an IV drip poison into me for four hours. It was very strange because I went in feeling so good and it seemed insane to have people make me feel bad. But you trust these people when they tell you have a tumor but I'm sitting there thinking...Maybe they're lying! Maybe they just want to make money, sell drugs, make strong women weak! And that's what I thought about for four hours. I know I was supposed to relax and listen to calming tapes and do inner traveling but no, all I wanted to do was to run out and see Sicko because I know Michael Moore is right and I'm a human guinea pig right now!
But I did it. And today, the day after, I feel a little tired and my arm hurts and I can't go into the fridge because it's some weird side effect, a sensitivity to cold. And I can't seem to eat anything but hummus. Maybe they injected me with some Greek concoction. Maybe I should rent Zorba tonight.
Okay, I think I've reached the end for today. There's always tomorrow. Oh my God, I'm writing cliches now. I know they put something awful in that drip.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Where Am I?

Blog. Blog. Is that actually a word? I remember saying something like "Blech" when I didn't like something I ate but I don't remember ever using the word blog. I also don't remember ever thinking that I might get cancer. Well, maybe in the back of mind I thought about it a little. Some of you know that I was born in the University of Chicago Hospital, Lying In......(Is that an odd name for a hospital or what?) and that was the center of a new and exciting science called radiation, which was new and exciting like the A bomb. So they told my parents that I had an overgrown thymus gland and they could get rid of it with this really cool machine they'd just figured out how to work. So they took this little nine inch baby (me) and they put her under this enormous hood and of course everyone ran out of the room while the baby (me) wriggled and giggled as the machine completely zapped her tiny body. And then twenty five years ago my parents received a letter saying that a percentage of those cute little zapped babies had developed cancer.

So here I am. On a journey I didn't want to take...Like thinking you're driving downtown when you're actually headed to the Valley because you took the wrong exit. Well, something like that anyway.

Now I can feel some of you thinking that you are so not interested in this cancer story, you just came here to find out about my time with Robert DeNiro. And believe me, I cannot wait to tell you. But I seem to be in some kind of shock denial right at this moment about this cancer thing, so as soon as I can see clearly I will tell you every little detail about Mr. DeNiro. If I can remember. Actually, maybe I made the whole thing up but I don't think so. That all happened when I was young and wild and optimistic and thought I would probably die at thirty having lived a most interesting, crazy life. And now I wake up shouting, "God, I don't want to die! I'll be good. I'll be perfect from now on. I'll go to Temple everyday!) (Do Jews do that? Everyday? Do they face Mecca? I've got to get back into religion.)

I'm rambling. I actually want to use this blog to let you know what's going on. I've got to walk my dog but I'll be back...............