5 AM

When people go on about “gifts” from cancer, I roll my eyes. More like curses, I think. One such curse is some occasional insomnia for me. You know, that wake up at 3 in the morning thing. Start worrying about stuff, mostly cancer, and cannot get back to sleep. This happened to me this morning. I did the one thing you’re not supposed to do–got out my phone and started goofing around, which pretty much guarantees I won’t get back to sleep.

So I got up at 5 AM, turned on the TV to see if I could find a nice boring infomercial that would lull me back to sleep. Instead I found delight: Foo Fighters on “Austin City Limits” on PBS!!

Let me back up a little bit. I knew the Foos were going to be on ACL, and knew that it was supposed to broadcast on PBS on Feb 7. PBS always gives a date and a time for programs with the note to check local listings. I LOVE living in Maryland, except for the state’s PBS station, MPT. MPT NEVER complies with the times/days PBS advertises. Well, of course, “Downton Abbey” is on at the same time as it is on other PBS stations, but I am sooooo over that show. When the Ken Burns cancer film shows in most areas of the US, I will likely not see it until a day or so after, and I will have to really look to see when it will screen on MPT. I’d checked my local listings last night, and ACL was not listed. It did not occur to me to check 5 frickin’ AM the next day for it. It was pure luck I had a sleepless night and got up to channel surf. Who the hell watches a show of raucous music at 5 AM? Well, me. With such recent artists featured on ACL—Nine Inch Nails, Beck, freakin’ Nick Cave—5 AM is NOT the time slot I thought to research.

All griping about my local PBS aside, what a wonderful morning. Yes, I am tired today—maybe I can grab a nap later. Yeah, waking up in the middle of the night sucks, worrying about cancer in such a way it prevents sleep sucks, but what a great outcome today! Today is great! (Cue Ice Cube’s “Today Was A Good Day” in the background.) I saw an awesome show, I was reminded of the power of live performances. Also, BTW, anyone who does not love Gary Clark, Jr. (the Foos special guest) is wrong!!!

So oh no, what??!!! I have to thank CANCER for the GIFT of insomnia??!!! Weeeeellll, I’m not gonna go THAT far. But I concede that the series of events led me to getting up early, and totally enjoying it.

Anyone who has read my older posts, the music related ones, knows that I 1) am a big rock and Grohl fan and 2) do not believe in having heroes. On the latter point—it isn’t fair to dehumanize someone with hero worship, they are merely fallible humans. That said, I will admit to being extremely grateful, indebted even, to Dave Grohl and his various music affiliations. Nirvana, Foo Fighters, wacky collaborations with Jack Black, any of those combinations have been a source of comfort in my post-cancer life. Of course I could’ve faced my post-treatment depression without him. But it’s been a hell of a lot easier with the existence of Dave Grohl.

In Grohl I trust.

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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

The Antidote

A/N: Most of this is meant to be tongue in cheek, humorous, albeit a little sarcastic, but not all of it. Hint, the parts about the music are meant to tickle your funny bone, but I am sincere in my thought that we all need to find our own ways to ward off stress, there is no one way fits all.–anotheronewiththecancer/cancer curmudgeon

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Great post today over at myeyesareuphere called “I Can’t Believe I’m Not Freaking Out“, giving advice about mindful meditation methods and other ways to fend off cancer-induced AND Bieber-induced stress. She includes an anecdote about her daughter singing a Justin Bieber song, changing the lyrics to reflect her dislike for the song (or so it sounds, I gather, from the replacement lyrics). Some songs, especially the annoying ones, are like that-they get stuck in the mind. My personal demon of 2012? Carly Rae Jespen’s “Call Me Maybe”. Hate it so much that now I like it, turn it up in the car. Top contender for 2013 is shaping up to be “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, a song with the most annoying hook ever, but a great lyrical ideal: shopping on the cheap at thrift stores!

People, or rather celebrities, say silly things like there are no guilty pleasures, we should never feel guilty about pleasure. Um, no, as a long time punk fan, I will always feel guilty for singing along to Jespen’s earworm.

The post got me thinking about how I combat two of the most evil powers of the universe: Bieber and cancer stress. The answer is easy (for me), simple, but quite long. Here is part of it:

The Ramones
The Clash
The Sex Pistols
Jimi Hendrix
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Iggy Pop
Sonic Youth
Rage Against the Machine
Tupac
Public Enemy
Eminem
Nine Inch Nails
Nirvana

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The Ramones

These are only a fraction of my favorite bands, but I only listed these because they are LOUD, which is nice for obliterating the Beibs and cancer worries (of course I love the Beatles, but try pumping your fist and scream-singing “Let It Be”–unsatisfying). Better still, it is nice to turn them up on my car radio as I fly down the road, because I know my fellow travellers would enjoy them too (sorry, my twisted sense of humor at play again).

OK, OK, I’ll serious up now. Myeyesareuphere recommends a few meditation books/cds to help implement practices that could help alleviate the stressors that come with having cancer. I need not enumerate those, I think.

I’ve tried a little Tai Chi and similar practices, a little yoga, a lot of walking (that is a professional hazard, as a dog walker). So far, most have not been so good for me. Any exercise that involves moving the left arm in one way and the right leg another way (or vice versa), I’m kind of screwed because I might be the most uncoordinated person on the planet. What usually happens, as I struggle to keep up with the class or the video clip, is that I wind up more stressed, for not being able to do it!

I will eventually try meditation, maybe. But right now, I kind of like how my mind speeds up and spins, so fast that my mouth can’t keep up when talking, or my fingers can’t type fast enough when writing. Cancer treatment slowed my mind so much, and it took me about a year from the last day of radiation for my brain to “get back up to speed”. I missed the speed of my brain, and the mass of thoughts swirling around in there. I don’t want to clear it, not just yet. I know it can help me relax, develop compassion, patience, etc. But I’m feeling better finally, I have some energy back, and I want to do things, I wanna do them now, not be patient, not relax!

For now, I do the things I can do to relieve my stress–ranting, via blog to get it off my chest, and cranking up my tunes. So what if it’s a little unorthodox in breast cancer world, but I don’t care because it works for me. Good luck as you find your method, or enjoy the one you have already found. Feel free to share it…even here on this post if you want.

And remember, it does not have to be the yoga or meditation variety, although that is perfectly OK too! Hey, normal or outrageous, as long as it gets the job done.

To comply with the follow your own bliss aspect of this post, have a picture of rock icon Iggy Pop

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