Electronic Cat Database

“Our top story tonight concerns the Internet, AKA, the Electronic Cat Database” –John Oliver

Collective Soul Cat

Ain’t gonna lie: I’ve said I was too busy to write blog posts, but I’ve also just been too blue. I AM physically tired—lots of work, and as chemo and/or radiation recipients know, you are never quite “right” again. I used to have so much energy, but since cancer, I just have never felt quite as energetic. So yeah, at the end of the day, I just collapse—and marvel that I once went out to clubs after a work day (how? what?). But it’s more than that—I’ve been slightly depressed. I’m caught up in the 2017 horrific news cycle. I scan social media, save things to read later, but keep scrolling without going back to read—#FOMO in overdrive. I love being a good #Indivisible #Resistance member, but I am tired, as I suspect many are. So I have not taken time to attend to this blog, or even my CC Facebook page much lately. I gotta change that in 2018 (even though as a good Curmudgeon, I think NYE resolutions are total hogwash).

The threats to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have taken much of my attention this year, and will again next year. Coming in at a close second has been the Net Neutrality issues. That sort of surprised me—I mean I am one of those crazy lefties truly and deeply concerned that authoritarian rule is about to descend upon my country. I’ve been really upset about so many things, like the lying, the attacks on media, on immigrants, on, on, on—but the attacks on the Internet have really made me nuts. Yeah, yeah, I know, nothing has changed since the FCC vote a few weeks ago—but I know how these things go—it will happen incrementally, so we accept without notice. How will this impact my blog? Will people pay for access to WordPress blogs? Would I? I do think that packaging of things like FB/Netflix/Hulu/Twitter will happen. What will happen to Tumblr? Yeah, I know, Tumblr is for teen and twenty-something depressed girls or whatever. But it helped me back in 2012. Just out of treatment, just quit my 9 to 5 and starting my own business, post-treatment depressed—I fell into the fandom stuff there. I met people there. My first online cancer friend, Greg, who eventually died of Mets prostate cancer, was found there. My dear friends @angel-of-malahide and @toasty-hancock were there. So, I cannot imagine not having access to Tumblr, but my pragmatic self won’t “pay” for it. Hell, I just cancelled Netflix today—which was unthinkable years ago. But, I don’t have time for Netflix, so why pay? I used to be such a film geek this was unthinkable, but, buh-bye.

And this is the crux of it. Yes, I benefited from the in-person support group at my treatment center. But it was the online support that allowed me to truly recover, mentally. My support group was small and rather enlightened for all that we were in a rural area (I was NOT the only one pointing out pink lameness, or pointing out the sexualization). But it was online that I found my niche. I found The Sarcastic Boob. I was so honored and happy when Scorchy herself reached out to me via email (inspired a whole blog post because of things she asked me). I met Karen the Commenter. We had long email conversations. And then I met more and more. (Confession: started listing y’all, but stopped for fear of missing someone; started checking FB friends and I don’t think I need to explain how troubling it is to see names of the dead there). I became myself again. In short, without the Internet I would’ve been lost.

My point is—and I DO have one that I AM getting to—is that I am so grateful for everyone I’ve met via Internet. I’ve been lucky to meet a couple of y’all IRL. I’ve cut myself off a bit this year, and that has been a mistake. Granted, I cannot keep up the previous frequency of posts, but I’ve been TOO infrequent this year. I’ve missed the interaction. I am indeed am introvert, so it seems odd that I would miss interaction, but I do. In fact, not interacting becomes a bad habit. I get stuck inside my head too much, and that is NOT good. (Or maybe my head got stuck in the other place, hardee har har.)

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really celebrate the holidays, what with half my life being in the service industry, holidays are just times when life is too busy, and I’m usually working. When the holidays are over and the new year begins, that’s a better time for me. I kind of like the return to routine, the disruption of the holidays is over. I cannot help but think I am not the only one with this view. Anyone reading this live in a small town too? Anyone else have that one restaurant or fast food crap hole that the retired set like to hang out in every single morning? I know some of those folks, and I know they kind of like it when the disruption is over too. Maybe their families live too far away for a visit (or some other far less pleasant back story), and they just want to get back to the everyday comfort and joy their pseudo family provides. I can’t help but think the online community is like that. It is nice to see family—for some of us. But the families we’ve created here online in our blogging community, the people who “get us”, well, it’s good to get back to that too.  We all know that not all of our family members have been able to support us during the cancer in the way we needed. So we need this thing, this Electronic Cat Database, this Internet. (Also, for the cat videos, which I’ve mindlessly watched lately. A lot.)

So my sort of, cough cough, resolution (ugh), is to return. A return to writing, to reading, to commenting, to interacting. I need it.

Look out 2018!



A Brief Manifesto Change

Most will have noticed I changed the header on this blog page and this blog’s Facebook page to a Carrie Fisher quote. I’m not tired of my Johnny “Rotten” Lydon quote—I likely never waver from his “People like their safe world. They don’t like realizing the way things actually are,” theory. That really applies to my view of the cancer-you-must-be-positive experience. And really, isn’t it just a punk version of Nietzsche’s “sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed”?

Fisher’s observation, “I think I do overshare. It’s my way of trying to understand myself. … It creates community when you talk about private things,” is really what my blog is about anyway. I’ve often worried that I lack conviction in my blog posts—it seems I’m usually raising questions without answers, rather than ranting or making pronouncements anymore. Most of my entries seem to be me trying to figure things out. Sure, when I began, I was all about loudly criticizing the Pink rah-rah attitudes—and I still hate that crap. But nowadays I want to look deeper, really dive into how this stupid cancer culture exists and possibly how it can be changed—maybe by trying to understand it. For example, it is no longer enough for me to loudly proclaim how unfair or ridiculous the competition between diseases and cancers is—I wish to understand it, and point a finger at myself for sometimes participating is such a useless and petty practice.  Or rather than just shouting “down with Pink rah-rah”, I wish to acknowledge—and to figure out how to live with the loathsome sexualization of my disease—all the nonsense which contributed to the creation of medicine that has prolonged my life.

These are my private thoughts—am I building community by my overshare?

On the interwebz, many bemoan 2016—calling it the worst. It isn’t, of course. It just so happens the people in my social circle tend to be like-minded and in my age range, so these celebrities that have died meant much to us. And of course many share my horror at our current political situation on the US. So yeah, 2016 is kind of the worst for some people.

I know it is silly to mourn a celebrity I didn’t know. My next blog post, the one I meant to put out here this week, will touch on that in a deeper way. But I saw a great tweet somewhere along the way pointing out how it is NOT silly to mourn celebs/artists, because they often helped us figure ourselves out.

That sure is true, or at least, some of these people were like a timeline for me. My mom was a big Bowie fan; he was part of the soundtrack of my life before real memories were formed. Carrie Fisher was my childhood. I’ve often written of my stupid “Star Wars” admiration. Seeing that movie in the theater when I was 5 or 6, it was and remains the single biggest life-changing experience—yes, bigger than cancer! Of course now as an adult I understand all the hero’s journey/Joseph Campbell stuff. But back then, I just understood it the way it was meant—all the good vs evil and mythical themes. And of course consumerism, ha ha! I still have my action figures!

When I was kid I ran into The Kmart's toy section to part with my hard earned allowance and cash on a new Star Wars toy. I still go straight to the Star Wars toy section 40 years later--nothing changes, ever! I just don't buy anything. But it's like I can't help myself, I have to go to see the Star Wars toys!
When I was kid I ran into The Kmart’s toy section to part with my hard earned allowance and cash on a new Star Wars toy. I still go straight to the Star Wars toy section 40 years later–nothing changes, ever! I just don’t buy anything. But it’s like I can’t help myself, I have to go to see the Star Wars toys!

Just last week I managed to see “Rogue One”, and then re-watched “The Force Awakens” (only my second time seeing it, and I’m sure I’ve seen the original trilogy hundreds of times, even when they’re on TV, just in the background). I thought to myself how great it was to see a female in the lead or hero role. And especially the diverse cast in “Rogue” (love, love, love Diego Luna for a long time now). Of course I never questioned Leia’s military position in the original films. Sure, she was “rescued” in the first one, but she never seemed like other Disney princess types. Still, Rey and Jyn are much better now. It feels like those people making the films now know that little girls like myself were buying those action figures too. So while the films are not perfect (man have I read some bad reviews of “Rogue”), for me they are simply gratifying. I, as a female, am also part of the “Star Wars” geekdom, and am relevant.

Prince and George Michael of course were my pre-teen years. I didn’t love Michael as much as the Duran Duran guys. And it was because of Wham and Duran that I bought Teen Beat (or whatever) and found The Cure, The Smiths, Depeche Mode. Which, in turn, sent me down the path of punk and what was then called “college rock”—and made me the weirdo I am today. (Well, Prince was always on the weirdo side, even when he was the top selling artist.) In my alterna-girl phase I rejected Duran and Wham, and even Michael Jackson and Prince to a degree. When I became an adult I re-embraced all those things, recognized the artistry, the brilliance.

TL;DR version—yes it is fine to mourn celeb artists because they help us discover ourselves. Writing this made me realize just how much and how deeply shaped I was by these folks. Prince in particular, has cast a pall over the year for me. I wasn’t a huge fan, but I did consider him a bit genius—and I don’t use that term lightly. I truly thought him special and it just seems unbelievable he could die, like ever.

Of course, reality sets in. I don’t call these people heroes or idols—I don’t like that. Idolizing someone dehumanizes the person—and they are only human. And I realize how odd it is to cry over celebs when there are so many metastatic cancer patients that deserve to stay alive—and that is where our energies must go—finding ways via advocacy to make that reality.

Still, Fisher’s quote resonated with me deeply. I heard the “Fresh Air” interview when she said it. Likely I was busy working and didn’t take time to jot it down. Just because she died does not make it more true—I just happened to see the quote pulled out, NPR posted it after her death. And it just seemed right to make it my header, to acknowledge that what she said a few weeks ago sums up quite nicely what I’ve been trying to do since I started this blog 4 years ago.

I’ll go back to my snarling, punk rock Rotten quote soon. But now seems like a good time to recognize I’ve been following General Leia Organa’s example all along.