The plan is…

The plan is to stop writing soooo much about nothing. I am switching gears to concentrate on using cartoons to say perhaps even more.

My point being this: http://www.ted.com/talks/patrick_chappatte_the_power_of_cartoons.html

Cartoons can speak volumes and there is little room for as many words as I tend to use. So rather than continue to write from a purely emotional place as I always do…(if it bothers me I work it out in words or thru this blog and that can’t be very interesting reading for anyone, I’m going in another direction altogether)

Cartoons are different.

Ultimately my goal is to set up a product or fan page on Facebook and maybe launch and also perhaps self publish my work. (no one else is going to do it for me. This is the “Swim out to your ship” theory…I need to make opportunities for my work. No one is banging down my door right now since they don’t know I even exist)

And if anyone has read this screwed up collection of mind rot essays would not be interested in anything else I might have to offer in any other medium.

So…I’ll keep this blog updated with cartoon updates and when I test some cartoons prior to setting up a fan page on Facebook I’ll post news here.

Any feed back is of course more than expected and welcome.

Be well.

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Published in: on November 20, 2010 at 9:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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It bothers me…a lot.

It bothers me…a lot!

My life has been nothing I ever expected it to be thus far, mainly because of cancer. (I suppose) it’s cancer that changed everything. Ripped all my dreams, hopes and aspirations into shreds of anything that looked remotely familiar. We have been recovering ever since.

Remission certainly keeps me grounded. (Remission is not a cure and it only means the lymphoma has abated. Remission is humbling because it is by no means final, in either case: cured or dead. It’s in-between, undecided really…it just “is”)

Along the way life has handed me a chance to experience the unexpected and feel life at its fullest. Every breath taken since I was diagnosed on Dec of 2006 has been stolen. I beat death…each breath is amazing. Everything in between those breaths have been exhilarating. But sometimes with each moment stolen I am reminded that I should be doing more with my life…like I owe someone, somewhere… something for my existence.

Cancer changes your perspective and brings on a priority resetting and lifestyle shift you can’t imagine. To walk away from cancer alive and not be changed by it…? I don’t see how that is at all humanly possible.

But priorities do shift. They shift from the mundane and hedonistic to life-giving and life altering. Immediately the elements and people in your life that were time vampires are dumped into corners of your life you will never see again. Other people are elevated to different, richer places of note.

But slowly life changes that too.

The people who stood out and the things in life that you share grow colder each day and the commonality less familiar. The warmth from them that was once a comfortable as a favorite sweater on cool November morning is now just bearable and not as satisfying. Not as warm at all.

Like a sweater, relationships sometimes become threadbare and need to be mended. Sometimes they just present the obvious truth, that they no longer are useful and need to be put aside.

It bothers me a whole lot.

Material things are especially troublesome for me. It has to be because of my role in this life as a provider. I survived cancer (Thank God and my Oncologists and Surgeons) but when your ability to provide is compromised you feel responsible. Your kids need things and they want things. Your wife wants a nice anniversary or Christmas gift. You want to give them these things. You feel the need to accomplish these things, but your credit is severely damaged in the process and the economy collapsed while you were down and out. Once you were on your feet again ready to take on the world, the world itself was limping along. Opportunities aren’t the same. Markets soured and somewhere along the line your physical needs may have been met but emotionally you can’t catch up.

You’re lost and drifting.

You can’t really connect with anyone anymore. You can’t relate, you feel like you are always on the outside looking in, even if you have a great relationship with someone or with some people, it’s not what it appears to be deep down. It’s not as close as it used to be…I often wonder where Ebenezer Scrooge is because I feel like Bob Cratchet…or worse. I feel like Tiny Tim most of the time. A majority of the time my feelings are a front. My interest is feigned and in the end all I want to do is stay in bed.

But you…I mean, But I get up and get on with the day and my job and my relationships (at work or otherwise) because without this interaction surviving cancer would be for nothing.

You see those you love hurt by cancer. You see those you trust and who you have been good friends with no longer look or sound the same. It’s like life hasn’t fucked with them enough yet…they don’t understand what you went thru and what it feels like to be you.

They can’t truly know. Even if they have some shit in their lives, they can’t completely relate.  And you tell yourself this, you give them the benefit of the doubt. Every single day. You tell yourself this, between every single stolen breath. I tell myself this.

“They don’t understand” and you try to move on. You try to ignore the changing landscape around you but it’s happening too fast (or slow, it depends) not to notice.

I can’t being myself to deal with certain people anymore. I think at times that I am unaware of the switches constantly being thrown on and off.

“like/dislike”

“love/don’t love”

Click/Click…

It bothers me a lot.  

And I see and feel another shift happening as I write this. My wife asked me tonight as I was drifting off to sleep if I was happy where we are right now in life.

I told her I wasn’t in the right mind to answer her.

I slept for about 4 hours and then couldn’t sleep anymore. Here I am in the kitchen tapping out my answer….

NO.

No. But I am glad to be alive, but I am not happy about where life has left me. Where life has left us.

I can’t measure my life against someone else’s (that’s not entirely fair) but I am noticing what stings now and what I can’t get past anymore and if our priorities no longer line up…all that’s left is you, me and whomever are going to fade into the corners of our lives we no longer explore and we’ll settle there, forgotten and missing.

And I know this, because I can feel the disconnect has happened already.

And it seriously, bothers me.

It bothers me…a lot.

Nature has run its course (Everybody Knows)

If we are going to find harmony anywhere in this life it’s going to be in the little things. This means we have to embrace our faults and be nice to people as best as we can and it also means getting out of nature’s way.

When we force (or try to force) a round peg into a square hole we run into trouble. It doesn’t fit. It isn’t designed to fit and even though we want it to fit we will try our damnedest but ultimately we lose.

Nature always wins. Nature always works it out that way.

It’s a Taoist principle. Going with the flow is better than swimming up-stream. Bending with the wind is better than trying to withstand the tempest. Nature (in this case, the wind) will snap you in half.

Sometimes, it really helps to tune into what nature is doing in your own life. Look for the subtle little changes along with the very dramatic swings toward the all too obvious. Read the signals, study body language instead of listening to what is being said. Open your eyes! Pay attention.

93% of all communication is non verbal. So it’s not what is being said that is being understood. Actions speaking louder than words is what it boils down to.

check this out: http://www.minoritycareernet.com/newsltrs/95q3nonver.html

The other adage is “how can you tell when someone is lying?” His/her lips are moving. Dr. Gregory House and God are in total agreement on this “Everyone Lies” and we have to queue into this too.

The sad part is as life takes its twists and turns some people get knocked off course and we end up running in similar directions but not at the same speed or with the same determination. We all encounter road blocks and often we find some of our peers have continued to move forward when you might find yourself left in their dust.

In this case it’s just how selective life or nature is and can be. And since life works that way…some people, many things and most situations eventually change and suddenly you stop trying to keep up and declare that you just don’t give a shit anymore.

And no one would blame you.  

I have seen all of this slowly develop in our lives recently. I took a moment,  stopped long enough to look around and focus and I discovered that Nature has indeed run its course.

This means the pendulum has most definitely swung in the other direction, people have moved on (and I can’t fault them for that. We all have to keep moving forward) but it appears it will be a long time before some elements in our life will ever look the same again.

At the end of the day; Nature always runs its course.  

It’s just a fact of life. Nothing anyone can do about it.

Everybody knows….(*one of my favorite songs btw)

Everybody Knows (Leonard Cohen)

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

 
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that it’s now or never
Everybody knows that it’s me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you’ve done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe’s still pickin’ cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it’s moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
Everybody knows what you’ve been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it’s coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Oh everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows

 

-Nuff said.

Published in: on November 12, 2010 at 7:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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We can’t afford to Dabble

This guy Tyler Burkum was in a band I used to follow called Audio Adrenaline (they broke up a few years ago) and now he’s cut his own record. http://www.tylerburkum.net/home.html

his My Space page: http://www.myspace.com/tylerburkum I really like the track “Hurricane”

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I am still searching for my true north. A setting on my internal compass I can’t find. I am trying to nail down some focus and stay on top of it. It’s as hard as hell…

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Sometimes I wonder about people…

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I am reading (or have pages marked/dog-eared in) four different books right now.

*******************

After a recent rumble (stupid argument, like always) with my wife of forever many years I suddenly feel that much closer to her after all this time. It’s like I just discovered her. This same woman who has faithfully been by my side through all the shit since the beginning. I don’t understand it. Just like that.

***********************

It’s quiet in the house now as the kids are settling into their daily school routines. I just dropped them off and my wife is at work. It’s Tuesday morning. I have my coffee, my broken lap top and music being provided by Tyler Burkum (see above links). It’s cold outside, more than small jacket weather really. Winter is setting in. I hate winter.

***********************

“too much love to contain
with the force of a hurricane
that’s what i felt inside
the day i met you”

-Hurricane (Tyler Burkum)

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 Change your mind, change your life.

*********************

Life is too short to dabble…. We can’t afford to be tepid with things or people. We need to be all in or nothing. There can’t be mediocrity. There can’t be just enough to get by. It literally is ALL or NOTHING in most cases if not every case.

Taking liberties here and there for the sake of some part-time escapism is us lying to ourselves. Breaks in life are nice and we should take them, I have no problem with breaking up the usual monotony but if or when that diversion begins to be all-encompassing we have to decide if we have a reason to invest more into a hobby or side gig.  

We can’t afford to dabble. Life is all or nothing.

*********************

An example of All or Nothing: “If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives, jobs. And maybe your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery, isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance. Of how much you really want to do it. And you’ll do it, despite rejection in the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods. And the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.” -Charles Bukowski (Factotum)

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I’m committing to going all in, making my art (whatever it is, visual or otherwise) and shipping it. Getting it out there. I was using NaNoWriMo to just draw cartoons this month. I planned on using the month for just that but I am only finding the time to doodle enough to keep the muscles warm. And right now that’s ok. (that is more than I had last month) I have plans to explore the internet as the vehicle it is to get my stuff out there. Good, bad or otherwise I’m committing to getting something out there and see how or if it survives. (stay tuned for more on that)

**********************

My cousin is working it out and delivering new music (soon) http://elisagirlando.com/ Elisa Girlando

And here is another cousin of mine also working it out and delivering new music http://www.myspace.com/cussesmusic he is in a band called: “Cusses” (from Savannah GA) My cousin is on guitar. Scroll down for the video. Another sample from Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkri1pk9YpU&feature=related (I don’t know who the suddenly filmed woman for no reason is…?!?)

They both have days jobs (last I checked) and they are making the time to deliver their “product” to the people.

 I’m not getting any younger…I need to set an example for my kids that the drive to “Go and Do something” is in their blood, not to just settle into mediocrity and be ok with it. Create it and ship it. Get it out there, whatever it is.

Me first…it has to start with me. And it is already.

******************************

be well.

Published in: on November 9, 2010 at 9:20 am  Comments (1)  
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No Looking Back!

It’s symbolic, but true. We don’t know how or maybe when to let go, I found this quote the other day: “Men don’t know how to say goodbye and women don’t know when…”

I have had a lot to think about these last few days. A lot of priorities to re-shuffle and I found some things taking higher priority than others. This is rather normal when you take stock of your life and wonder if everything is in the right place at the right time.

A time when you ponder the relationships and situations and people in your life and even your job. I have had to examine if I am giving enough time to whats most important in my life and I found in a lot of areas I was not.

I have a couple unresolved tasks I want to accomplish now that I am in my 40’s and hopefully as this year winds down and we begin anew in 2011 my family and I will have a renewed sense of direction and purpose. Our sole purpose post cancer is to rebuild…brick by brick, day by day, moment by moment.

I am resetting goals that have been ignored recently in my past and perhaps setting one major attainable goal with measurable bench marks I can quantify as I go along.

I have come to realize that my priorities (wants vs. needs) in this life are not going to line up with anyone else but my wife and kids. And life certainly threw us under the bus four years ago, screwed up everything we ever hoped to do. We are still dealing with the financial fallout that came with my unexpected illness. As my kids grow up they will have to consider what’s most important to them as well and eventually their families. (God willing) I hope they will walk away from this part of our lives having learned something.

So…I am currently resetting parameters in my life and while I am acknowledging my past I am not looking back, I can’t afford to. In fact I heard that little voice inside Don Henley’s head that said “don’t look back, you can never look back”

So I’m not.

…I can never look back. 

-S.

Two score days and five

Two score days and five is the King James way of counting and the way I am marking the days between when I found the swollen lymph node and when they officially diagnosed me as having two different cancers. (I wanted to set these days apart because of what they meant to us.)

“Two score days and five” begins on November 4th. At the 45 day mark I will commemorate the successive phone calls I received that explained I had Renal Cell Carcinoma and Hodgkin’s disease (lymphoma) on December 19th.

It’s a strange time of year for me. This year is 4 years removed and it is getting easier to get through now, but it’s starts the “recall” clock which ultimately runs until July 3rd which is the date of my last infusion.

I was told I was cancer free on May 18th so that date counts as Remission Day for me, also known as  NED (No Evidence of Disease) so for the next 9 months (November until July) counts as my cancer year if you will. A cancer season may be a better way of putting it. Regardless I relive this period of my life every day, the only saving grace is that each year I mark an anniversary is another year farther away from “IT”…

In between all of this nifty remembrance are our traditional holidays which were then tainted with the news of cancer. Suspicions were there from November 4th so that date is cemented in my life as the day that our lives unraveled.

Try enjoying Thanksgiving and Christmas in the midst of all that uncertainty and fear. It’s not easy.

I want to emphasize something at this point in the post, I may write this in the first person and note all my experiences as “I” but cancer affected more than just me. It fucked up my whole house. My wife and my kids lives were just as interrupted. Cancer isn’t a lonely disease, it drags family and friends into it as well.

My wife was immediately thrust into a care giver role she didn’t ask for. We both knew this was “in sickness” rather than just “in health”, this was serious shit going down. My odds were decent. The dr’s had to remove the kidney and give me some recovery time before starting chemo. They only gave me three weeks before my first infusion.

From January until July our lives found a new pattern to follow. The outside world had its own clock and we were had ours. My 6 cycles of chemo ran six months, every two weeks with blood work taken on the in between weeks. My wife became the head of the house, she basically ran the house with me down and out, she maintained school schedules and homework, she made dinner, and she took me to treatments and sat by my side through every single one (even though I said she didn’t have to) …

She sat diligently in waiting rooms while I was in surgery, she sat beside me as the chemo was dripped into my veins, she reminded me of drugs I had to take, she understood when I couldn’t sleep and ended up on the couch instead of in our bed. She let me nap as my body called for it. She put up with my crankiness and my bitching about how miserable I felt when I had my bad days. Through it all she kept her sanity and sometimes her sense of humor.

I don’t remember if I thanked her or not.

For better or for worse, in sickness and in health became a HUGE event in our house and it obviously affected our partnership as husband and wife, it strained my relationship with my extended family who chose to hide behind their Christianity and “faith believe” I was already healed all the while every two weeks chemo nurses would access the port-a-cath and hook me up for my life saving poison. This was real for us and it affected my kids too on some level. Cancer involved my entire house but when it comes down to sharing these stories and/or marking anniversaries of my survivorship people seem to only recognize my part of the ordeal…

Certainly because I HAD THE CANCER.

But that isn’t the least bit fair to my wife. This perspective isn’t fair to anyone who has had to be that caregiver, especially if that caregiver (like my father) lost a loved one to this disease.  

Cancer touches everyone in the house and the unsung heroes not recognized at all are the spouses or significant others or family members who shared in the fight. These people need to be acknowledged as well.

It was their fight too. Cancer isn’t a singular disease.

Certainly by rights, yes…only I received the chemo in my body. Only I had surgery to remove my kidney. Only I felt like shit on the drugs…but my wife put up with it for as long as I did, and she did so looking in from the outside unable to help me feel better, feeling helpless as I was wheeled off into the OR to disappear for 4 hours when they removed my diseased left kidney. She had to maintain strength when I couldn’t and sometimes, she couldn’t either. She broke down, she had bad days and had to consider the alternative like I did…

“What if the chemo didn’t work?” and even earlier than that “What if the kidney cancer had metastasized already?”

My mortality was close enough at hand, close enough to keep perspective and focus. It adjusted our point of view for the rest of our lives, Cancer was a wake up call to how fleeting this life is and how many things in this life just are not worth the time and energy most people spend on them.

More importantly during “Four score days and five” I would ask anyone reading this to think of some one they know who was or is a care giver to someone with cancer or any disease or illness and acknowledge them and what they went through (or what they are going through right now).

It’s important to me as a survivor that my wife know that her friends and family know she suffered along with me. She suffered differently but she suffered nonetheless. Think of the widows and/or widowers left alone because while they fought alongside their mates as their care givers, cancer won and instead of just “in sickness” parted them “in death.” 

I have long thought something needs to be done to recognize and acknowledge caregivers and maybe insist they get their own day on the calendar. They need something.

If nothing else, they need a hug to start with.

Please don’t assume cancer only affects the afflicted. Think about everyone involved. Look past who has the cancer and acknowledge the care giver as well.

Thanks and be well.

-Scott

Published in: on November 6, 2010 at 9:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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