Turned Up To 11, Always

Marty DiBergi (Rob Reiner): Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder? 

Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest): These go to eleven.

From “This Is Spinal Tap”

This is just another hissy fit post, similar to Did You?, but sillier. Well, sort of. I’m also serious, but don’t take myself too seriously.

In Did You?, I listed some questions people ask a cancer patient to find out if there was something the patient did or didn’t do that caused the cancer. That post is me complaining about the way folks love to blame the patient, so they can assure themselves that by doing the opposite actions, they will be safe.

But what is troublesome is that some of the items I listed that might cause cancer are pleasurable. For example, drinking, smoking, getting a tan, are indulged in for fun by some. And I’ll admit I find great pleasure in sweet foods, like chocolate and cheesecake.

My point is, with all the “advice” tossed off in the media and from well-meaning, but-won’t-shut-up-with-the-advice types, I sometimes twist it in my head into: never have any fun—it causes cancer or other damage. I get overwhelmed sometimes and grumble to myself, great, I think I’ll just ingest a leaf of lettuce and a gallon of water each day—nothing else, and maybe that will keep me safe. Except it won’t, because the lettuce was probably treated with some chemical and can I even trust where water comes from? Well, I suppose if I pay an arm and a leg for it.

I could extend the list of killer/fun behaviors, and extend the list of negative consequences to health problems beyond cancer. Nearly all the cancer-causing items cause heart or other disease. And I’m causing myself all kinds of harm by constantly being attached to some electronic, internet connected device. Hell, even my mobile has started to berate me.

I attach a speaker to my mobile via the headphone jack, and as I turn up the volume, a message appears about prolonged high volumes and headphones causing hearing loss (“you dumbass,” I wanna scream at the phone, “other things get hooked into the headphone jack, not just things that go directly into my ear!!”).

But the truth is, I already have quite a bit of hearing loss and it is my fault. As those who’ve read other posts on this blog o’ mine will know, I write a bit about music, and my tastes run to the loud and aggressive—lots of screechy guitars. I love punk, grunge, hard rock, hip hop, all kinds of ear-splitting stuff. I’ve loved that sort of music for over half my life and don’t foresee a change.

I’ve been going to concerts to see the bands that make this music for about 20 years now. Well, I haven’t gone much in the past ten years. But I did see quite a few bands, in small places, where loud music reverberated off the walls. And no, I did not wear anything to protect my ears, as many musicians and concert attendees do these days. So, that is how I’ve caused hearing loss. That, and turning it up loud in the car, windows up, singing along, and I’m told my music can be heard as I pull up in driveways. For me there are few pleasures better than the music being turned up so loud I can feel it in my bones.

I have difficulty on telephones when people do not speak clearly or speak too quickly. And why do so many people insist on talking to me when I am far away, walking away, or running water or doing some other noise-producing activity? I cannot hear any of it!

So, all this said, it would be reasonable for me to have learned a lesson, to turn it down a bit.

No.

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I’m so tired of doing the “right” things. I am so tired of an extreme healthy culture that I feel like I cannot have any fun doing “bad” things. Yeah yeah yeah, exercise is fun, and I’m sure there are many healthy activities for me to find—please, don’t send me suggestions. Because nothing can replace as good as loud feels for me.

I have, of course, reduced some of my indulgences—I drink much less, eat better, exercise more, since cancer. I still get annoyed when I see health or money saving advice start with: quit smoking and give up soda (carbonated beverages, whatever they are called in whatever region). I never smoked and hate soda, and beer for that matter. So I cannot get a quick obvious start to getting healthier or saving money. And as much as I say I love cheesecake, I love veggies just as much, and have always eaten quite a lot of them, so the veggies are already added to the diet—they were always there. Just not at the same time as the cheesecake, ha ha.

I’m going to keep turning my music up as loud as I want. I will go to my grave—whether it is cancer that sends me there or something else—deaf as post and I will not care. Please don’t take this one last bit of bad fun from me. I need it to keep the fear cancer has introduced into my life at bay.

“Something else is hurting you – that’s why you need pot or whiskey, or screaming music turned so fucking loud you can’t think.”  — Charles Bukowski

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Cake

jory-howyoudoin

“Yeah, but bacon tastes good. Pork chops taste good”

 –“Pulp Fiction”, 1994

While I was ranting in the previous post about how the media treated the recent death of Gandolfini, I began ranting about how TV doctors, commercials, and other media go on and on about healthy diets, and soon I was going on and on and on about food and weight loss and the judge-y judgertons on TV, and had wandered away from just fussing about Gandolfini and how his death got treated. I realized just how much media messages about diet and weight bother me.

I call this post “Cake”, but I don’t just mean cake; I’m using that one four lettered food item to stand for:

Ice cream

Chocolate

Cookies

Fried chicken, oh heck, all fried foods, fried stuff with cheese, to quote Joey Tribbiani

Rare steak

Fudge

Bacon

Cookies

Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger

Pie

Mayonnaise

Brownies

Mac-n-cheese

Potatoes

sam

Candy

Fruit juice (not the real, 100% juice kind)

Coca-cola (I mean all soft drinks, where I’m from Coke means any syrupy, carbonated beverage)

Wine

Vodka

Biscuits

Pasta

Waffles

Food smothered in any kind of creamy sauce, mmm, like Alfredo

Sweet tea

Pizza

Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, lovely spam, wonderful spam

In other words, every food or drink that is awesome but is aiming to kill me. For the record, I don’t like soft drinks or soda pop (whatever your region calls it), or pie, or spam (my favorite song), but I’m listing foods that I know many others enjoy.

Now, I love when y’all comment on my posts, but I gotta ask this time that no one leave me a lecture about healthy diet and exercise, or moderation. I don’t eat a box of pasta and a jar of sauce every night for supper. I get the concept of moderation. This post, in combination with the preceding one, should explain that I GET IT, I just feel like I’m being lectured all the time with the constant messages about losing weight. Liberal media, Right wing media, shoooooot, Diet media is more like it. Sometimes I think that whole Cancer Thing I had there was just a plot constructed by The Smoking Man to get me to eat a damn salad. (Kidding, I ate salad in my BC—before cancer—era, I just do it more now). Who is The Smoking Man? OMG, stop reading and go stream all episodes of “The X-Files”, like right now, before I sic the unmarked helicopters on you. My love for that show probably explains too much of my blog.

Anyway.

You guessed it; this is just a humor post, me blowing off steam by going to the ridiculous extreme. I’m just complaining, and kicking against this constant need to behave sensibly that cancer seems to have imposed on me. No, this post was written by the six year old me, and she is cranky. And she wants a donut.

But in all seriousness, the issue of weight in all health-related pieces I see or read is really making my blood boil lately, and Gandolfini was the last straw. Wanna hear something stupid? BC, I was not overweight at all. I was in the correct weight span for my height. Was my BMI perfect? Doubtful. Was I a pleasing shape? No, I looked like—and still look like—a marshmallow with toothpicks for arms and legs, because all my weight gain goes to the middle, turning me into a box shape (oh yeah, forgot marshmallows in above list—but I don’t like them either). Was I fit or in shape? I’m not sure; I mean I had two physical jobs that required me to be active and do lots of heavy lifting. So, no I wasn’t in the gym, mostly because I was busy, working my ass off to get the money to pay the bills. I had no immediate health risk factors for anything really, other than my family (genetically and you know, stressing me out, driving me crazy).

Now, post-treatment, yeah, I’ve put on some extra pounds, and that has everything to do with chemo. During those first awful weeks of chemo, I hated all food and doubted I’d ever want to eat again (and yeah, lost ten pounds very quickly, my pants kept falling down, plumber butt!). Two years after chemo ended, and the smell of most foods do not make me nauseous anymore, it’s like I still cannot quite believe my good fortune at getting my appetite back. I’m like a kid in a candy store, or cake store, or steak store, or fried chicken store, or caramel popcorn store, or…you get the idea. So, I wasn’t overweight before cancer, I gain it after cancer because I missed the taste of food so much, and now all I hear is: fat causes cancer. I just want to scream! I can’t win for losing. So if I get cancer again, can I sue chemo treatments for making me appreciate food anew, and therefore causing me to overeat and get fat causing me to get more cancer? Yes I’m being facetious and sarcastic, to make a point.

I’ve been rolling my eyes lately at the commercials in which a woman is confronted with a donut or cake or a person dressed up as a cupcake or some such nonsense, and she chooses the healthy fruit-filled cracker-like snack. It’s just so stupid. That supposedly healthy choice is not at all healthy (preservatives, empty calories, and all kinds of other crap) and it is just so unrealistic. I would take that cracker and throw it, and then devour the cake. The ad doesn’t make me buy their product; it does make me cook fatty foods. I once watched a film about food that started off promising, talking about why humans crave the carbs and sugars and what not, but then it turns into what seems like an ad for juicing (I did not check, but I can take a guess at what or who funded this documentary). Not once in any of these types of commercials/films/shows does anyone acknowledge a basic truth:

CAKE TASTES GOOD AND THAT IS WHY I WANT IT. All the fancy juices and jam filled crackers in the world will not change that fact, why will no one admit this?

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I do not have great will power, but when I do manage to exert even just a little will power, it comes from admitting to myself that hey—I want that cake (or any tasty food) because I LIKE IT. I don’t stupidly pretend that better-for-me foods will give me even half the joy or satisfaction the cake could give me.  Otherwise being healthy would be easy, and I would not need films, commercials, and talking head TV doctors lecturing me. Of course, this line of discussion gets too close to that Kate Moss quote (“nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”).

Of course, that opens a whole other can of worms doesn’t it? A friend with numerous chronic illnesses (none of them being cancer) must avoid fats and sugars to avoid going from feeling bad to worse. It is like a simple mathematical equation for her: Insert cake into mouth = feel terrible all night. Lucky for her, she is one of those people who just don’t care much about food, and cutting out certain foods doesn’t faze her, she never misses any of them. Well, that ain’t the case for me and the equation is not so simple in cancer. Being fat is a risk factor but not an absolute. Cutting out all the things I love (wine, chocolate) does not give me a 100% guarantee, and I want that guarantee. And again, don’t send me a lecture, because I’ve heard the argument: being fat is a risk for the post cancer woman because then she’ll just die of a heart attack, if not cancer. Gee, thanks. Health nuts get their panties in a twist about this one all the time, I know it, I understand it. Now, can I have a piece of cheesecake to enjoy?

Sigh, guess I just have to file this problem under the “life’s not fair” section, and muddle on.

But maybe my real point, in all this fussing, whining, and moaning I’m doing here today is this: I have a sneaking suspicion that cancer has made me afraid of enjoying some of the simple things in life I used to like. I wanna go outside; nope, pesticides. I wanna go to the beach; nope, sun = skin cancer. I wanna dye my hair magenta again; nope carcinogens in beauty products. I wanna eat something good; nope, I’ll get fat. It’s like I live in a world full of “nope” now. No, I’m not being so drastic or extreme as to suggest that for all the limits on my life now maybe I should’ve just given up when I got cancer. Not at all. Just sayin’ real simple-like, I know a life-long health-nut guy who stopped eating sugar and his Lymphoma keeps coming back. Remember—no guarantees. All I’m saying is, I could take those twigs on TV a little better if they’d just admit they want the cake, rather than putting their noses in the air, piously waving the sweet treat away and then downing a glass of something that looks like liquefied crap that came out of the lawn mower.

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A friend sent me a quote once about not just wanting to survive, but wanting to live. If I can get 10 to 20 more years, well, by golly, they will be ice cream-filled years. Now that is L-I-V-I-N’.