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.