Let it be known that one of the first things I did after learning I have breast cancer was to make tacos. Because that's how I fucking roll.
Well, the actual first thing I did, after my doctor called to tell me the tests were positive, was cry. First, I cried. Then I called my sister and cried. Then I picked up my laundry from the laundromat and cried. Then I called my stepmother and cried some more. Then I made tacos.
This is so fucking unfair. My father just died of liver cancer. I mean, JUST. The week of Thanksgiving. I held his hand, I watched him curl up in pain like a child, and two days later he was gone. I haven't even really dealt with his death yet and now I have to think about my own. It's too cruel. I won't stand for it. I won't.
I have no idea yet how bad it is, what stage it is, if it's spread, or if it's treatable. If I'm going to lose parts of my body, my hair, or my dignity. I only know at this stage that I have cancer. I'm the complete anomaly - too young, no family history of breast cancer - no reason I should have it, but I do. I have cancer. It's in there growing and destroying, killing me little by little as I write these very words.
I thought it was nothing. Just a stupid lump that hurt and seemed to get bigger when I had my period, all things that pointed to a cyst or some other hormonal annoyance. My doctor sent me for tests and I was worried, but not overly so. It wasn't until the day of the tests that I really got worried. There is nothing more frightening than having the chipper, chatty woman giving you your mammogram/sonogram look at the screen and suddenly go quiet and somber. I've had it happen twice now and it's terrifying. That artificial smile, the gentle encouragement, the light gone from their eyes. Both times I immediately started crying, because of my father, because of Bowie and Alan Rickman and Grizzly goddamn Adams, because now I was scared. Really scared.
They did a core biopsy on Wednesday, where they rammed what I imagine was a gigantic needle into the lump - which they told me was the size of an olive - but I didn't look at it. Instead I watched the sonogram screen and saw this sharp stick spear that olive like it was a toothpick in my breast martini. It didn't hurt while they did it, only later, and then it hurt a lot. The whole side of my boob (admittedly small) is covered in black and blue. They said I wouldn't have the results until Tuesday, so I left and cried in a Duane Reade while buying Tylenol, because it was all I could take for the pain because it won't make me bleed. Tylenol does nothing for pain.
I spent the weekend praying and bargaining with God, begging for it to be benign because there's still so many things I want to do with my life. I didn't want to be sick. When it started snowing today I was relieved, because I love snow so much, and maybe God was trying to tell me that everything was going to be okay. That I was okay.
Then my doctor called. The tests came back early. I wasn't okay. I have cancer.
I keep saying it out loud over and over. I have cancer. I have breast cancer. I have it. I do. This isn't some bad dream, some nightmare I'm going to wake up from. I have cancer. It's real. I feel like there should be something more, like a phantom hand that appears and punches you in the face, or maybe this sound out of nowhere - just something dramatic because simply saying it over and over doesn't make it feel real.
Mostly, I feel numb. Pissed off, but numb. Sad and vaguely terrified, but numb. I don't know yet if I'm dying or if I can fight it. I just know I have it. I don't want to be cocky and talk about how I'll kick it's ass and recover, because I was cocky about it being benign and it wasn't. I'm afraid if I'm cocky, I'll find out it's spread everywhere and I have six months to live. I don't want to be cocky. I just want to stay numb.
What really sucks is that I was finally at a place in my life where I felt good about myself, where my issues were dealt with and I was confident about my future and achieving everything I wanted. Maybe I'll never have those things now. I'll never be a famous writer. I'll never truly fall in love. I'll never really touch anyone's life or make the world better. Never do anything but die a painful death. It's not fucking fair.
And look, for all I know it's stage one and I could be okay, but I just saw my father fucking die and that's not where my mind is going right now, okay? When I speak to my cancer doctor and get all the info, I'll be a bit more realistic about it, but for now, I'm scared.
Just let me be scared.
I made my sister promise me that no matter what happens, she will take care of my kittens. Find them a home, keep them together, if that time ever comes. She said that was stupid and the last thing I should be thinking about, but she's wrong. They're mine. I'm responsible for them. If I had kids, someone would take them, but no one is going to instantly take my cats. I have this horrible vision of them in cages at some Petco, terrified and alone, their sad tale of woe written on a fucking index card in the hope that some kind-hearted person will adopt them together or at all. Without their toys or their beds, with no one to cuddle or love them. I've seen those cats. I've cried for them. The idea of my kittens like that is the absolute worst thing I can imagine. It scares me worse than my own death.
My poor family. We're still mourning the loss of my father and now this. Everyone is shell-shocked. No one knows what to say. We all just saw the worst side of cancer, so it's hard to be positive, even if we should be. My sister doesn't handle this stuff well. My stepmother just lost her husband. She just sat by his bedside for weeks watching him die. This isn't fair to them either.
"Thank god you're calm in these situations." my stepmother said, and she's right. The big stuff I'm always calm about for some reason. Logical. I can stay detached and observant. A writer's mind, I guess. Besides, being hysterical isn't going to change anything. My stepmother is going to come up and stay with me when it's decided what treatment I need, so I won't have to do it alone. My sister said she'd go to my appointments with me. I'm so thankful for them. I know my sister will bully me into not giving up and my stepmother will comfort me when I want to. I don't want to do this alone.
I haven't told any of my friends yet. I don't even know how. I guess I'll figure it out.
I'm so numb. It doesn't feel real. It didn't feel real when I got the tests or the biopsy and it doesn't feel real now. Maybe it will tomorrow.
'The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' is even better on the rewatch.
I'm going to list the hilarious titles of these 'ABC After School Specials' and you try to guess what they're about:
Please Don't Hit Me, Mom (1983)
Daddy Can't Read (1988)
Just Tipsy, Honey (1989)
My Dad Lives In A Downtown Hotel (1973)
Don't Touch (1985)
She Drinks A Little (1981)
Sometimes I Don't Love My Mother (1982)
My Dad Can't Be Crazy... Can He? (1989)
If you knew how hard Dottie and I laughed at 'Daddy Can't Read', you'd know we are truly horrible people with no chance for redemption. But we're okay with that, because we have each other.
Kal Penn forever.
One night this summer, out of sheer curiosity, I found myself on one of those sex offender database websites, where I discovered there's a rapist living on my block. He showed up as a big yellow dot on the map, because yellow dots are for rapists, while other colors represent different crimes, and when viewed from the right distance New York City looks like a giant Twister board of deviants. (Left foot, child molester - spin again.) If you click on a dot, it brings up a nifty list of stats on each criminal and their crimes, complete with a profile picture, like the world's worst dating site. I was surprised there was only one convicted pervert in my area, because there were some neighborhoods where the map looked like a fucking Jackson Pollock painting. They were everywhere. And rooming together like models, apparently.
Welcome to Brooklyn.
Anyway, my neighborhood rapist is a middle-aged Asian man with a lazy eye who lives in the building next door. I don't recall ever seeing him on the street, but maybe he's shy when he's not raping people. The sad thing is that he's nowhere near the creepiest looking person in my neighborhood. Not by a long shot.
There's a little triangle of benches at the top of my block, situated around a thatch of uncut grass and a tree, and during the summer you can always find a group of men sitting there at night, drinking beer and talking. I've nicknamed it 'Murder Park' because every guy on those benches looks like a serial killer. An established serial killer, I mean. There's the Richard Ramirez guy, with his heavy metal t-shirts and crazy eyes, a Henry Lee Lucas lookalike with wild, uncombed hair, and the obligatory Jeffrey Dahmer clone in his wire-rimmed murder glasses. They are rounded out by a heavyset guy with long white hair and a full beard who looks like a deranged Santa Claus, ready to climb down your chimney and disembowel you for the holidays. I imagine they've bonded over their mutual creepiness and sit around all night discussing the best way to prepare human flesh burgers for the end of summer block party.
There's also a woman on my street that I'm pretty sure is a Terminator, but that's neither here nor there.
These are my neighbors. I have many locks.
TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN, PART 1 - Mix recreational drug use, boredom, and the fact that I'll pretty much watch any piece of crap if it's on cable, and what you'll end up with is this review. So I apologize in advance and you're welcome, because this movie is as batshit crazy as I am.
For those not in the 'Twilight' know, the story centers around a teenage girl named Bella who meets and falls in love with a vampire named Edward. This might be exciting if either character were even slightly interesting or there was a drop of sexual chemistry between them, but it's like watching paint dry for five movies. They mostly just cuddle and talk about how in love they are in that annoying teen way (2-getha! 4-eva!) - and that's when I get bored and try to picture Edward looking his real age, which is like a hundred, just to amuse myself. That rotting corpse is dreamy! I love his milky eyes! This isn't weirdly pedo at all!
The only drawback to their insipid teen/corpse love is that other vampires keep trying to kill Bella because she's human and they're not down with 'Monster Fever' - or whatever they call it when vampires hook up with regular folk and break those crazy racial barriers. Turns out... vampires? Not that tolerant. Bella's always missing important school functions and lying to her parents because she's running or fearing for her life. Gee, wish I had a vampire boyfriend. Tweens are idiots.
Not to mention, Bella and Edward can't have sex. And the reason why is my favorite thing ever.
See, they get married in this one, so it's expected that they're finally going to the do the dirty interspecies deed, and everyone is really worried about it because Edward is vampire strong and it might be too much for poor human Bella. That's right, a major plot point of this film is that Edward might lose control and KILL HER WITH HIS VAMPIRE PENIS. It's discussed. At length. By multiple characters. And it's hilarious every time. Whenever poor Bella tries for a little premarital nookie, Edward just sighs and says, "You know we can't. I don't want to hurt you." And cue me laughing for five minutes because that's every guy's dream line.
This is the crap my niece was reading when she was eleven? Because that could be really confusing for a young girl. Basically, "A boy can kill you with his penis. It can happen. Sweet dreams now. Stay a virgin forever." Ugh. As if young girls aren't already scared of sex and imagining their first times as a mixture of agonizing pain and more blood than Carrie at the prom, so let's go ahead and add lethal genitalia to the mix. I mean, I read Flowers In The Attic when I was eleven, so I knew more about sibling incest than I ever needed to in this lifetime, but at least there were no homicidal penises involved. Times have changed.
Anyway, Bella and Edward get married and the vampire sex doesn't kill her, but she does get vampire pregnant. This is where I called bullshit on Stephenie Meyer and her whole fang-less vampire world. Anne Rice is rolling over in her coffin right now. (Not that she's dead, I'm just pretty sure Anne Rice sleeps in a coffin.) Meyer's vampires can live in daylight, just not direct sun because they're house plants or something, and they sparkle like disco balls. They attend high school (?) or have day jobs (vampire doctor!), refuse to drink human blood, and except for being really pale and climbing the fuck out of a tree, they're basically human. And incredibly dull for supernatural beings. Still, whatever. I'll buy it. But vampire procreation? Come on. No wonder tweens love this stuff, Stephenie Meyer is obviously twelve years old. I fully expected Bella to give birth to a vampire unicorn.
Turns out the vampire baby is slowly killing Bella and when she goes into labor, Edward rips the baby out of her stomach with his teeth. I'm not kidding. It's shot in this weird, light flickering way where's she's screaming and he's at an all-you-can-eat placenta fest and you're just like, "What the HELL am I watching?" Then you remember. And you're ashamed.
There's also a bunch of stuff having to do with Jacob, Bella's werewolf ex-boyfriend (because she's only a gillman, mummy, and Frankenstein away from having dated the entire Monster Squad), but since the werewolves are ridiculous CGI cartoons that talk to each other in human voices, it's probably best not to mention them at all. Except for this weird scene where Jacob 'imprints' on the baby, meaning he knows in some psychic way that she's his future wife, which was very 'Japanese Geisha movie' and creepy. You made out with her mother, dude. Not cool.
It mercifully ends with Bella dead and being made vampire - which involves Edward injecting a tube of milky liquid he calls 'his venom' into her chest. Because guys are always trying to put their venom on women's chests. It's a thing. I had no idea it made you a vampire. Maybe Stephenie Meyer has a sense of humor after all.
Thanks to it's utter insanity, I didn't totally hate this movie. But I am a little worried about my niece.
ME: Going for drinks with the ex tonight.
MY SISTER: Thought he was history.
ME: We're friends.
MY SISTER: Your exes always come back around. Do you have magic in your vagina?
ME: No, just a bunch of scarves knotted together.
They are, Liz Lemon. They SO FUCKING ARE.
I read this book in one sitting. Couldn't put it down. Loved it.