In the middle of one my many sleepless nights, I had a kind of revelation about myself, cancer, anger, popular culture and gender expectations. I know that is a lot for one night and one revelation but you would be amazed what you can get done once you stop sleeping.
First, I’m angry. Damn straight, I’m angry. I have incurable cancer. The clock is ticking. I could be one of the miracle babies and have another eight years or my next scan could come back bad and that would be it. I don’t know. Can’t know.
Secondly, it isn’t like I get to frolic and enjoy all the things between now and when I kick the bucket. What I spend my time doing is going to doctor’s appointments, getting treated for the side effects of the cancer treatment, and sometimes getting treated for the treatment of the side effect from the treatment of the cancer. And waiting for disability application to be approved. Alone.
Thirdly, no one wants to talk about any of this with me because they love me and can’t deal with the fact that I have incurable cancer. I love my therapist.
And finally, when I go looking for some support, some kind of validation for how I’m feeling, what I find is that our culture assumes that women who have end stage breast cancer are interested in doing yoga and maybe taking a stained glass class. Really?…Really?
There’s a hit television series, Breaking Bad, whose premise is guy gets fired from his chemistry teacher job, finds out he has inoperable cancer, turns into Nietzche’s Ubermensch (google it) and people love that shit. They eat it up. Where’s my anger validation, homeys? Where’s my cheering crowds? Why would anyone be surprised I’m angry?
What I want to do right now is burn everything down. Burn it all down. Burn it all down to the ground, all the stupidity, all the plodding, voluntary ignorance, the SUV stick figure families, all the people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing, every one who spends their time feeling put upon and pissed off because they have to keep up their end of the social contract. Burn it all down. You, person who is taking up two parking spaces – flames. You, person bitching about having your flight to Hawaii delayed two hours – flames. You, person who doesn’t put your cart in the cart corral – flames. You, person who wants financial aid for your kid but makes $150,000 a year – flames. You, kid who called my kid a bitch in 6th grade – flames. You, person who tells me you are praying for me when you see me at the grocery store but has never so much as picked up the telephone to see how I’m doing – flames. Burn it all down. All of it.
I am Job. I want to go out to the desert, scratch my itchy sores with shards of broken pottery, and be left alone, except not really be left alone but have friends sitting off to one side so if I need help, they are there. I’m not angry at God. I’m angry at humanity. We live in the wealthiest culture that has ever existed in human history. We carry around in our pockets a device that gives us access to all extant human knowledge and can help you find a good Thai restaurant and yet we complain about being bored. Or worse, complain about being busy. Our grandmothers washed the clothes in a tub on the back porch or in a creek and children used to die of whooping cough and dysentery. Stop whining.
Life is amazing. Everything is amazing. Outside is amazing. Sex is amazing. Art, music, literature, Girl Scout cookies, fractal equations, wine, pets, modern medicine, hats on men – it’s all amazing. And no one is happy. It is all wasted and I want to burn it all down because we are the reason we can’t have nice things.
March 9, 2013 at 7:36 pm
I’m glad to see you letting some of this out. It’s OK, really OK to not keep up a pretty face and when people ask you how things are going with you to tell them they are going to hell in a handbasket and it isnt even one of those nice decorated handbaskets, either.
March 10, 2013 at 12:35 am
Awesome. With a capital Awe.
March 10, 2013 at 4:25 am
Well, the problem with this is it’s so on-the-money, how can I write a comment that will keep up?
I agree that people ignore the eternal issues (let’s call them) in favor of being swallowed by minutiae. The more money you have, the more soulless you get. The more you lose, the more you have soul. So maybe America is at the point of starting to develop some soul, instead of just being the whining, sniveling, materialistic babies we have been for the past few decades.
March 10, 2013 at 4:27 am
And you can complain about having terminal cancer all you want. I dig destruction and anger. They are important and holy processes.
March 10, 2013 at 6:13 am
Right on. Well said!
March 10, 2013 at 10:25 am
This is a great post and a kick-in-the-pants wakeup call. May many of us be awakened by it.
March 10, 2013 at 1:40 pm
Kelly, we need your voice so much in this culture of enforced optimism. You’re saying things a lot of people don’t want to hear. So many of things called “edgy” or “raw” really aren’t, they’re just retreads of violent, profane images/language we’ve been hearing for decades now. What you have to say really is on the edge, truly is raw, really does threaten established ideas (like happy pink cancer-survivor stuff). I’m sorry it’s lonely on the edge and I admire your stubborn integrity.
March 11, 2013 at 10:46 pm
Agree with everything, except the fractal equations. Not so sure those are amazing.
March 12, 2013 at 4:49 am
You go on and break bad, girl.
March 16, 2013 at 11:50 am
Love love love love love love this!
March 16, 2013 at 12:55 pm
Amazing. Thank you for your honesty and the perspective.
August 5, 2013 at 9:23 pm
I’m hugging you. Cause, you know, you need it.