Week 25: One Bite at a Time

June 24, 2010 at 7:16 (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you. ”

As a writer, it bruises my ego to have to quote another writer, but Maya Angelou said it so well. Since I can’t say it better, I’ll let you sit with it awhile. Coincidentally, I’ve been sitting with it for 32 years; the untold story, that is. And it stresses me to not have the ability to tell it. Most of that inability is due to that fact that it’s difficult to write down trauma in a neat story form. Where do you start? When do you end? How do you color in between? It’s just not as easy as great writers make it seem, which is why I’ve given up before my pen ever hits the page. Why write if it’s not going to be great? But of course it goes back to the point Maya Angelou so beautifully made: Because I have to. I have to tell this story, and the gift from my boyfriend’s parents of a 1930s working typewriter has reinvigorated me to do so.

I received the Royal weeks after discovering a Facebook group called the Summer Novelist’s Club. An article in “New City” about a recently graduated writing class that wanted to stay together throughout the summer caught my eye. One of them was brilliant enough to come up with the idea I wish I had thought of years ago: To eat the elephant one bite at a time. To each continue writing only two pages a day for almost all 110 days of their summers so that, in the end, they’d each be accountable for a first draft of a full-length novel. And they’d get together and present the finished works to one another to close out the project. Now that sounded fun.

So I’ve started. Not every day, but at least two pages at a time, every time I do allow myself to write. It’s coming out of my brain and onto the page more easily, now. It gives me an outlet and something I can do for myself every day while I’m bubbling over with other people’s secrets. It’s a story I probably won’t tell to anyone but myself for 40 or 50 years, but it’s felt so great to be able to tell the truth for the first time.

I hate keeping secrets.

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Week 24: 148 CTA Bus Accident on Lake Shore Drive

June 15, 2010 at 7:16 (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I have started a Facebook page for everyone riding the 148 CTA bus (Route #1640)  which got into an accident on 06/15 in the southbound lanes of Lakeshore Drive, just south of Belmont, at 9:00 am.

You can share information at:  http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=130901533604994&ref=ts

I’m just using this blog and the ability to use tags so it shows up in your Google searches so that we can make sure everyone gets taken care of. I felt the CTA was pretty neglectful in shoving us onto another bus without any proper crisis management, ambulances, police reports, “are you doing OKs?” or claims filed whatsoever.

I have images and information to share, and I hope you will too. I am whiplashed, but totally OK. I hope you are, too. Please go to the ER!!!

Then go to http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=130901533604994&ref=ts
 for more.

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Week 23: Walk For The Cured.

June 7, 2010 at 7:16 (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I love a day that starts out with me running product through my hair and not pulling out actual fists full in the process. The latter’s enough to make anyone want to stay in bed, and that was me a year ago, just finished my fourth surgery for ovarian cancer and still feeling like shit.

This morning, however, I pulled nothing out of my hair. All of it stayed in my head. It’s a great celebration, considering yesterday I walked in the 17th annual Robert H. Lurie Cancer Survivor Walk in Grant Park. $15 in registration fees — no pledging required — was all it took to walk. This was not a walk to fight cancer or to raise funds but to fight hopelessness and raise awareness of one simple fact: We do survive. We — you — are more intractable than disease.

I debated for months whether or not to go. I have sort of an inferiority complex about my cancer, and also, though my scans have been clear since my surgery last May, I wasn’t sure I believed I was out of the woods yet. I definitely have avoided getting tests done these past few months. But T pushed me to walk, and I’m glad he did.

3500 people walked yesterday — the largest event of its kind. Survivors got purple t-shirts, supporters got white, and I have to say I was bothered that not even 20% of the crowd wore purple. I am fiercely proud to say you can survive aggressive, recurring cancer — even when, like mine, it doesn’t behave as it’s supposed to and it defies statistics and the best doctors. Even when, like me, it robs you of reproductive rights, of friends, of a job, of two jobs, of dignity temporarily. But even when you experience all this, if you have the support of 3500 people in white and purple shirts — or the support of just one guy in a white shirt, which I have in T — you can thrive. A year after my fourth surgery, I’m in a new job and the most promising one I have ever had because I was afforded pluck and maturity, even when I temporarily lost my ambition  — and even when I thought ambition and zest for life were gone for good. I am about to get engaged to a man who supported me as my best friend from the day he met me, which is luckier than I ever hoped to be, and I’m healthy, for however long that may last.

And even more reason for more purple t-shirts: Yesterday, after the walk, T and I headed to an art fest on Michigan Ave., where hundreds of thousands of women in pink took their breast cancer message right down the main drag. They were a strong, zealous presence, and I felt pangs of jealousy. The attention they bring to one type of cancer is immeasurable. Susan G. Komen’s Race for a Cure is known by everyone, and of course I want that cure for breast cancer patients, too. But I want hope even more for those without the cure. I want people to know that until there is a cure — or even any treatment at all for some cancers — if you or someone you know gets cancer, nothing is set in stone. There are no forgone conclusions. You will have twists and turns and even if you get the worst prognosis, you will probably confuse and maybe even beat the odds.

This is why we must be proud to be survivors. This is why I am jealous: Because I want to be walking down Michigan Ave, too, strong and zealous in my own bright color, bringing attention that you can survive, that this is life-changing and that cancer is something from which you can move forward. You can, you know. I am one purple shirt more of living, walking proof.

Maybe next year, you’ll all walk with me.

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Week 19: Mecca

June 4, 2010 at 7:16 (Uncategorized)

On the north side of Chicago, almost two miles up Clark from Wrigley Field, is a tiny, unnoticeable storefront for Transistor on a dirty part of the street.

Inside it looks like a pristine recording studio. Inside, it looks like the promised land for music lovers. Inside, I ruined my dinner.

That’s because in the two hours I spent mesmerized by this kickass store that’s only 300 square feet, I forgot that I had raw chicken in my bag.

It is stocked but not packed with super-cool, super-hard-to-find brain candy for super-music lovers. Books and posters and prints and stereos and progressive merch and vintage merch and merch I don’t understand… They have things like live-music yoga and the owner of the Metro spinning on Fridays. Mecca!!!!

My head is reeling from the awesomeness. I didn’t even know what half the things are, but I know I have to go back!

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Week 21: Is Week 1 for Some People

June 4, 2010 at 7:16 (Uncategorized)

May 22, 10:40 am, CMP is born. For 9 days I’ve been waiting for him to show up in person. For 9 months I’ve been watching his mom turn him into one. It is crazy now that he is here and my friends H and M are not two people but three. A family.

I have never seen anything so new. His second day here, he opened his eyes and looked at me. He didn’t see me or understand me but he was learning me. He knew my voice and was connecting it to whatever his developing rods and cones would allow. This made me look away, embarrassed to be so vulnerable, but look back, arrested by being so arresting. He took my breath away. In a week, I shower and brush my teeth and run to the bus and scribble notes and go to meetings and present to clients and throw away hours of work and make dinner and make phone calls and make love if I’m lucky — and this kid just got here. He’s had one week. My week goes by in a flash and this flash is his first few days. I’m missing everything. By contrast, he’s missing nothing: he’s taking in everything, and he is overwhelmed. He screams and cries. Everything sucks for this kid, and I get it. Birth is as traumatic as they say, and he’s got two very thoughtful and sensitive parents, so he’s bound to be picking it all up, little antenna that he is. At least, I hope he’s paying attention because this is all pretty incredible.

I love this kid. I want to snuggle him but I’m scared to crush him. I want to kiss him but it makes him cry. I love this kid. I love him so much.  I love that  Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” soothes him. I’m so glad he’s here, and that I get many, many more weeks with him.

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