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.

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

Image

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

Image

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

Image