Category Archives: south america

the sky is empty

“I talk to God but the sky is empty.”
~ Sylvia Plath

Ge’ez, Sylvia Plath is sure a downer!

When I was little, I thought my grandparents lived in heaven, not because they were dead, but because they lived in Arizona (a stretch to see how I got here, I can imagine, but bear with me)….

I came to visit them with this kind of sky:

From this kind of sky:

So, when we went to visit (usually in early summer) our plane went up above the clouds, but never came back down through them… so, they must have lived in heaven, right? Please, also note that this was also around the time I was very saddened that Zeus and the pantheon of gods was not “real” and that my mother found me once, kneeling in the front yard praying to the moon-god. I was a wildly spiritual child.

Considering my family did not practice any real form of faith as I was growing up, they were Protestant in Roman Catholic countries after all – and any Protestants that lived where we were tended to be evangelical missionaries and not the most fun to be around – add in that we were considered to be “converted” and there were all those heathen Roman Catholics and indigenous cultures that needed to be saved. 

Many people tell you to lean in to your faith in trying times like this. It is amazing how much you seek something out, something that requires faith. But looking for something that is comfortable, that does not mean I must have a rebirth in any fashion, that means I don’t have to believe fossils were put on earth by satan to lure us to his evil ends,  something other than the spiritual connection to the cancer I got is because I have mommy issues, something other than I am not godly and got cancer because I am being punished… 

fuck – fuck – fuck – fuck

FUCK

How do you find faith in the midst of such fucking insanity.

Notice that is not a question, though it probably should be.

Anyway.

I learned that I had a sizable chunk of muscle removed with my last surgery. Granted, it was not the breast surgery removal of days of yore when women begged for a radical (nay, they wanted uber radical) mastectomy – the kind that took out muscle and bone (think ribs and clavicles). I’m missing 2 inches of chest wall muscle… and I’m still in disbelief… faith.

The way humans think is sometimes shocking to me. BUT, and it is a YUUUUUGE “but”, I get it. While my head understands that if treated correctly a lumpectomy has the same results as a mastectomy and you heal faster – but WTF does treating something correctly mean? My tumor was muscle adjacent, so does that mean that one of those a$$hole cancer monsters escaped and is it hiding somewhere? Somewhere that chemo and radiation can’t find?  Faith.

This is where finding faith again is crucial – but it is so freaking different this go around, faith that is.

If you are prone to that which is beyond the physical and don’t judge, I can share how I am re-learning how to lean in to faith again.  The thing is, I will most likely appear a heretic to you.

The one thing I know, is that I don’t think faith is about re-birth (that concept is what caused me to abandon faith before)… if it is for you, that is awesome – but I don’t buy it one effin’ iota.

I, beautifully enough, am finding this process of rediscovering faith kinda cool. and a bit painful.

It is especially nice since there is a disquiet in this process, of being a person diagnosed with cancer. It was present the first time and it is present again this time.  The subtleties of it that I experienced the first time is magnified, but both of my cancer experiences, so far, are incredibly similar… at least internally.

Because my first round was stage 1 and caught super early and only required surgery it was subtle. I felt like a fraud of a cancer patient because phht, it just needed surgery. People (most of them), aside from the time during the surgery put me at the bottom or low-end of a cancer continuum (that was practically equated with being cancer free).

In this round, where I am currently listed as stage 2B (and probably only because they did not take out more nodes and we will see if that changes after the next battery of test results come in), it is still sufficiently low on that continuum that I still feel like a fraud (though only less so because, after all, it looks like I am getting chemo and radiation this time) and the news about the cancer itself has just gotten progressively worse. Many of those same folks from my first experience are still like “well, you aren’t dying”.

I am adding silently  in my head; “that I know of” because I am still waiting for more tests and results of tests.

No, I am not dying (well, at least I don’t think so, but as I said… I will have a more definitive answer after I see the results of the next test). Trust me I celebrate that!  I am not healthy, I have a chronic disease that gives me (according to my radiation oncologist) an 81% 5 year survival rate (though this varies depending on the sites with such data). Yes, 81% is super awesome, but before this all went down I was with most others and had the general average population of a smidgen over 98% . A 17% drop in my life expectancy is still a crappy thing to have as a part of my life.

Trying to balance a good attitude with crippling doubts is a strange place to be.

I struggle. The struggle is real. Not because I have a Christian need for an after-life – but because I want to be more than just a life form – I want something divine to be a part of this experience, I want to lean in to something when I am so riddled and consumed with anxiety. A set of rituals that I can be a part of, a community where I feel like I belong. IN my head I often say to myself, I just want to be loved through this.

I read about Sherman Alexie today, something that I struggled with, but which spoke to the spiritual little girl in me that the unseen world is there for those that listen.  (the story is here).

I have found great comfort in so many people in my life, women and men – willing to be a part of this process with me.  I hate to lean on them, how do you answer the unanswerable to someone like me desperately seeking?

 

 

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Untie the haggis and why wear pants – 40DOW – Day 1

I spent yesterday at the hospital. The hospital my son was born in. The hospital my nephews were born in. The hospital my half-siblings were born in… and some other some such relatives.

This time it was for me though, I had to get some girly things taken care of. Which reminds me, ladies… get your check ups.

Actually, that reminder is super good place to start… because that is where this journey started.

A friend posted about getting a cancer diagnosis on Facebook, and what a crazy ride it had been. I read her post, with tears in my eyes and realized it had been a few years since I had done mine.

Actually, it was more than a few years. That is what I found out when I called the doctor to schedule an appointment.

Not a smart move on my end.  Things like DES are a part of my history. I really should have known better than to let so much time lapse, but I did.

My luck is that I went in time. But I needed some work. and I got it.

So ladies, get checked. Men, make damn sure the women you like (even just a little but whom you know well enough to enquire about their vaginal health) get their lady bits checked. Regularly.

But I had fun at the hospital. If such a thing can be fun.

I hate IV’s… hate them, hate them, hate them!


I invoked my grandmother by going home in a muumuu that my aunt had bought for me… a gorgeous caftan of multiple colors and GLITTER!


I can’t even begin to describe its awesomeness.


I took pictures for as much as I could. (for the record, I love selfies, I love looking at them and I am OK with taking them and I am especially fond of what I laughingly call “we-we’s” but most people refer to as “groupies”.


My favorite we-we. ever. but only sorta, because Squink isn’t in it.


For some reason we began referring to my cervix as my haggis and made a plethora of jokes about them that involved playing bagpipes and other such hilarity that probably only seems funny if you were a part of the conversation. The whole haggis thing was compounded when I get home and after much sleeping and woozying find I got an amazon email that was, ironically, all about haggis.


An email about haggis.


My arm bands had the colors of the flag of the countries I was born and grew up in… in spite of my aunt insisting my blue was really Greece (it isn’t).

Amarillo, azul, y rojo (and NOT GREECE) and featured on my Instagram account


My aunt, brother, and husband picked up Squink and so he was there when I got out of recovery…

I can’t tell you how much joy I felt in knowing that his little body was there waiting for me. And when he saw me he was sweet and gentle and it was beautiful.

And then I found the glitter from the muumuu had managed to get on everyone and you know life is good when you are glitter bombed. Right?

Excited that a caftan experience awaits at the end of this!


Why wear pants when you can wear a muumuu? 

~ Beth Ditto

THE divine guess

While I have many favorite words in Spanish (among them alcochofa and murcielago) , I find that there is one word that I struggle with consistently and how I struggle is in how to use the word adivinar in English. I catching my wanting to say “adevine” quite often (am I thinking in Spanish and translating into English?). 

For those who don’t speak Spanish here is some help: 

Translations of “adivinar”
verb
guess
divine

See that? There is a miracle embedded into this word! English hasn’t really supported that inclusion in to words like guess (or conjecture, suppose, imagine, think…) or even the idea of conjecture into the word divine (as in miracle [in the verb sense].

I have wanted to say things like “I can’t “adevine” that”, thus imposing a sense of magical incredulity into guesses and conjectures. But it isn’t a word and my using it would cause some confusion.

I miss the magic that is embedded into the romance languages, the kind that is largely absent from English.


I grew up with mountains like this. I think they inspired my wanting to incorporate magic into life.

Exploring vulnerability

Everyone, I think, would agree that there is something about being vulnerable that sucks.

I write about it here.

In terms of why I am cross referencing both blogs, the answer is that I am still looking at both platforms, not sure what to do. I think they both have advantages and disadvantages in a manner such that that I do not feel in-any-way-compelled to use one over the other… I sorta wish I could use both in one.

What are your thoughts?

Anyone?

Anyone?

Anyone?