vacations

So here’s a revelation: I like resorts. Yah, I said that. No one hijacked my blog.

Me, the girl who has traveled through Latin America sleeping on dirt floors and hammocks said that. Me, the girl who easily links resort culture to ugly capitalism. Me, the girl who finds nothing to gritty, the one who will choke down terrible Central American cheese to please a nice old lady who made me lunch, the one who thinks nothing of having no travel plan until we arrive, the one who never cared if the only place to shower was the river, the one who turned her nose up at those gringo-grouping travelers for something more unique, more sweaty, more unpredictable, more full of moments when there’s nothing to do but sit on a strangers porch in awkward silence sipping juice with ice in it that maybe was made with purified water and wonder why traveling the world isn’t as romantic when you’re doing it as when you tell everyone about it.

That girl likes resorts. Even she is shocked.

Sam and I had a phenomenal vacation. It was truly incredible. We went to Hawaii, we stayed in (gasp!) a resort, we ordered room service and let them make our bed everyday and snorkeled with the turtles. We laid on the beach and drank mai-tais. We opted for the all-organic option on the menu. We rented a covered bed-thing at waters’ edge. We drew in the sand and oohed and aahed as the sun set. We traced the constellations in the sky from the hot tub. We upgraded our car rental to a sexy little convertible and drove it with the top down and the air conditioning blasting. We got seaside massages.  It was insanely expensive. And it was glorious. I loved every single second. And I have now declared to each and every one of my cancer-buddies, that this kind of extravagance is absolutely a post-cancer necessity. Because it is. Also, if you’re not yet in the “post,” it’s just fine to make it a cancer-necessity. Because it is. Sometimes, like post-cancer, you just need that kind of holiday. Frankly, I’d give anything to live in the kind of holiday forever, the kind where beaches lap at white sand and dinners involve multiple courses and there is a dark chocolate on my pillow every afternoon. But they dragged me home, kicking and screaming, and now I’m writing from my kitchen table, and it’s like a hundred million degrees in my apartment because we live on the third floor, and it was hotter in Hawaii but there were mai-tais and AC, so I didn’t care. Maybe I just need more mai-tais in my life. Or more Hawaii. Or both.

But anyways. Here’s some lovely photos of the loveliest holiday! (They call it that here in Canada. I’m now totally aculturated, and besides, doesn’t it sound sexier than vacation?)

cancer camp & the view from here

Tomorrow, I’m headed to cancer-camp. It’s not really cancer-camp, I’m just calling it that. It is a retreat, for post-cancer people, up in Whistler. It looks to be lovely. I’ve packed my bag and loaded my Kindle with novels I probably won’t read and stuffed some dark chocolate into my backpack. Because, just in case.

It’s the beginning of the epic month of July healing. First the retreat, then camping with Sammy and our niece, then Vancouver and my bestie from home visiting, then Hawaii. It’s meant to be a month of warm and cozy, of safe and comfortable, of moving through and beyond cancer. I am looking forward to these moments of reflection, of being in beautiful places with beautiful people, of honest conversation, creative processes, and intensive focus on dealing with the cancer residue and moving on.

I think I need this focused time. Cancer has wreaked havoc on my life, left me with a life I cannot recognize. Life is filled with moments that produce insane and over-flowing feeling, emotional responses that don’t map onto the situations, inability to see anything without the cancer-blinders on. And so I need this focused time to figure out how to deal, how to sail the waters of this new normal, how to navigate the tensions and the fears and the hopes and the desires, how to chart a path forward.

So I’ll be away from the blog for a while, though I’ll probably keep writing and publish later. Or maybe I’ll just make videos and publish-or not- those. Or maybe I’ll just do yoga and I won’t write anything. Signing off for now, dear readers. Keep your fingers crossed for some insights from cancer camp come this time next week. Xox.

the view from here

1 down, 7 to go.

When I got to the intersection of Oak and 16th today, I watched my dear bridesmaid A (since I wrote that on a chart as her relation to me, its now official) flip a U turn in her itty bitty Smartcar. You could practically do a u-turn on the sidewalk in that thing, its so tiny! with a 2It was fun to ride to chemo in the bitty-bitty-plastic-toy-car. I’ve always wanted to see what that was like, and today I got my chance. A came with me to this chemo because Sammy had some important work stuff happening, and the poor guy has already re-arranged his schedule probably a hundred times to come with me to things. I’m going to have to line up some friends to come to these exceedingly boring appointments with me.

After we rode the elevator up to the 6th floor and checked in, we noticed the absolutely ridiculous selection of books. I absolutely love trashy novels, but these were even beyond my typical trashy airport fare. One even included a title something like “The Handbook for Handling His Lordship: Scandalous Brides” and the picture on the cover was of a woman who’s blouse was slinking down her shoulders. This book would probably give me high blood pressure. I mean seriously. I should have photographed this awesomeness so you too could appreciate the scandalous and trashy reading the cancer agency is providing for patients. Then again, all these old people probably need a little trashy romantic novel porn with their chemo.

The nurse came and got me, and settled me in a big chair. She connected my photo 5port, which hurt because its still bruised! Next time I’m bringing some numbing cream to make the needle prick not something I have to worry about. And then we waited. The nurse has to specially administer the first cocktail, which is bright red, from a syringe into my port with the saline solution. I couldn’t feel anything beyond the initial poke into my port. After that, I switch to the second drug, which is 45 minutes, and then I’m done with everything. It’s pretty easy. There’s warm blankets and ginger-ale and cookies. And its hella boring.

An older woman getting chemo in the same room told me not to shave my head photo(18)because who knows what will happen, but I’m doing it anyway. In the next few days, I’m doing it, well, really, either my friend C is doing it, or Sammy gets to do the honors. If I wait a few more days, I get to rock this short haircut I am in love with a little longer, and as an added bonus, if I decide to go to the department holiday thing tomorrow evening there won’t be too many questions about why I shaved my head, just crowing over how awesome short hair is, which I can totally handle. The nurse said it will likely start falling out right around my second chemo treatment, which is in two weeks, and right after Christmas.

The many faces of chemo:

Oh, and guess what? I was kind of jazzed anyway this afternoon because my article on gender/media/development got published in Feminist Media Studies! This is totally awesome, mostly because I have wanted to be among these writers for like, ever. Finally, I’ve arrived. To Feminist Media Studies. And, I got “Accept as is” after the first set of revisions, which is also totally awesome. In my supervisors’ words (and lets face it, she knows everything) “This never happens. Except when it does.” And it did, to me! There is hope after all. If someone could just let the cancer know I can easily battle back with cultural theory, media studies, and feminism, that’d be great. I’m certain I can out-write this fucker. If only that was the challenge.

I feel a bit strange now. I think I’m dizzy from the steroids. Yep, I’m getting steroids. And an array of little pills the nurse described as “stop-signs” and “house-shapes” and for the ovals, “yellow footballs.” Officially weird. So, since I’m now feeling a little strange, I’ll go ahead and close this blog post and go read a trashy novel in the bathtub. Next time, I’m gonna get one of the even trashier cancer novels, maybe something about lordships and scandalous brides.

‘Night.

happy thanksgiving

We had an awesome thanksgiving. A short summary: Megs, my BFF from home came, we lit the turkey on fire, and my friend A hugged me so hard my earring cracked. Earring-crushing hugs, best friends, and flaming turkeys, these things make for the best thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is less of a big deal here than in “America.” Nevertheless, I con all my Canadian friends into celebrating every year, which is a feat, since in my opinion, so much of Canadian identity is defined by being “not American,” and there is really nothing as American as turkey and pumpkin pie on American Thanksgiving. The Canadians always ask when it is, and I’m always thrown that not everyone knows it’s obviously and always the fourth Thursday of November. I have lovely Canadian friends that, for the most part, put away their disgust (hey, I harbor this disgust, too!) with the good ol’ US of A and participate in Thanksgiving a second time for me. Canadian Thanksgiving is before Halloween and you can celebrate it on whichever day over the long weekend that works best for your family, which is to me, well, blasphemy.

So, 2 days post sentinel node surgery, my BFF from home and I foraged at Jericho beach for decoration supplies and we mashed potatoes and we drank lots of cranberry mimosas. And friends from Vancouver came, and were not scared off when we lit the turkey on fire, even though the smoke made it a bit challenging to see each other across the room. It was lovely. And I am thankful. For friends, for good food, for the best hubby in the world, for people who distract me and laugh and listen and think with me, for the biggest Christmas tree we’ve ever had (purchased the day after Thanksgiving, like a true America), for sweet kittens and for the opportunity to write about something I care about. And also, of course, for quite a bit more.

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Today, on this thanksgiving weekend, I’m thankful to have a cousin who has offered to be our surrogate. I knew she was thinking about it, and I was stunned at even the moment of her “I’ve been thinking about it.”

This is a girl who painted my face with red lipstick when we were little, and put my hair in side ponytails even though my father got angry because he thought it was going to make me sassy. We both turned out sassy anyway, thank goodness. This is a girl who served like a hundred tequila shots at her Thanksgiving one year and who painted my old red car like an American flag when I went away to college. This is the girl who had a “Don’t Worry be Happy” t-shirt I loved so much as a kid, and who still paints her nails in patterns and polka dots. This is the girl who understands how my family works like no one else.

There are not words that could possibly approximate the feeling of gratitude and wild compromise and insane love and care I feel towards this girl right now.

the view from here.

sometimes it’s best to see the world through a lens. this is what it looks like from over here. they don’t look like my normal photos, but they look like the world now.