Some say Phil Spector invented the “wall of sound,” well allow me to introduce you to my invention: the “wall of words.” Am I Brian Wilson yet?
My book is coming out later this year with Tolsun Books.
The books is called Transference and it’s an essay collection,
but unlike my first essay collection (You’re Not Edith, George Braziller Inc., 2015) this one is kind of all over the map.
If you read You’re Not Edith, you’ll note that Transference picks up, more or less, where that collection ended:
with the end of my first cancer struggle, and from there I bring you with me all the way from Milwaukee to Flagstaff. All the way through an entire decade right up to March of 2021 where the book must stop because . . . edits and printing and ARCs and . . . you know, the “biz.”
Also, as readers surely have noted,
brevity is not my strong suit.
I need my editor to edit my shit.
Also, I think editing is now my favorite part of the process.
I like this, too — this sudden expulsion of thoughts from my head to a Google doc to a Medium post to your eyes.
I mean, you, specifically.
Because if you’re reading this you either 1) like me
or 2) like what I have to say or maybe, heaven forbid
If you’re cool with me, reader, I’m cool with you.
Do me and those I love no harm; I shall do you and your loved ones no harm.
I’m so verbose that
I just fucking elongated the GOLDEN RULE:
Do unto others . . .
But when I say “you” I do mean you unless you are reading this with the intent to do me some malice in which case 1) yow and 2) what? and 3) become an Actual Adult or at the very least get a hobby because the further I get in life the more I realize that hating individual people is a waste of fucking time.
Condemning individuals is unhelpful and a waste of energy. Also, it’s not your job. Or my job.
The exceptions being cases where true harm to an individual or the common good has taken place.
For instance, say a police officer kneeled on the neck of a man who might-have-maybe committed some petty crime that no one fucking cares about. For some petty shit, a man kneeled on that other man’s neck, until that man ceased living — this, we must condemn because we don’t want to live in a country where ANYONE gets to END a human life outside of real, honest-to-god self defense.
People who fuck up like that must be held accountable.
Outside of murder, rape, hurting children — I basically think we need to give each other a break.
Stop tearing up individuals because we get so lost in that shit we can’t see the bigger picture, the systems themselves, and the truth and the change that must follow the acknowledgment of certain truths.
(Dear Fox News. Please stop brainwashing financially poor white — and some dumb financially rich — Americans so they can no longer parse truth from absurd fiction. Best, Gruber)
(Dear Americans — Stop getting personally attached to the lives of people who don’t know or care about you. Pay more attention to the people who actually love you, if you’re lucky enough to find them.)
(That said, I will admit that I still get swoony when I think about that time I met Ted Kennedy in a park in DC or stood in a bathroom line with Dorothy Allison at AWP or saw Morrissey live for the first time in my late teens.)
Anyway hating an individual is tedious and small and way too fucking easy. Frankly, hating an individual and expecting YOU will feel better if THEY get some sort of pain (again, I’m not talking about murder, et al) is about as intelligent as shooting your own big toe off because it hurts a little.
Like the Kardashians. Do I know who they are? Yes. Do I think they’re important in the grand scheme of my life? No. Do I hate them and wish bad things to befall them? No. What do I look like, John Wayne Gacy?
I don’t give a fuck if people got rich through capitalist infrastructures like Social Media and television and shit. What do I care? I’m just glad none of the Kardashians are in education because I do not think it would suit them given their particular skill sets. (Don’t talk shit to me about the Kardashians or Miley Cyrus or Brittany Spears or any other Female Celeb — capital “C” intended, as their persona is their job/title — who got rich selling sex appeal — until you’ve first taken a good hard look at what it takes for a woman in America to get rich through hard work alone.
You know who are the hardest working Americans in the hotel industry? Maids.
You know who is paid the least in the American hotel industry?
Fuck shit talking women
because you’re angry that they got money —
the one and only stupid thing our sick culture consistently tells us is so fucking important (and it is important because they’ve made it important) — while you naively did your American best and couldn’t come by all that money, after all, through good old fashioned “hard work.”
(Guess what, folks?
Money ain’t about hard work.
Never has been.
If money were about hard work or, let’s be generous.
hard work AND brains alone?
My dad would be richer than Elon Musk.
Myth of Meritocracy.
Look it up.)
Also, hating celebrities is a dumb past time.
Hating any one person is a waste of time.
Have you ever heard of outside? Have you ever
reached down to pet the soft spot on a prickly pear?
Have you ever just closed your eyes and listened to David Byrne’s
voice melding with quirky-and-often-profound lyrics?
Have you ever tasted one of Trader Joe’s mini ice cream cones?
Well, if you’re hating someone today, I’ve just given you a list of things
you could totally do instead of hating that person. Trust me,
those TJ’s mini cones taste WAY better than seething hatred feels.
Like hating Trump. Are some of you out there still hating Trump?
I’m not saying forgive the fucker. Far from it. Do NOT forgive and do NOT forget with that piece of shit put us all through, but do remember that at the end of the day, more than Trump, we hate what he brought to the surface in this country: a truth that needed to be extracted like a bad tooth, but damn that fucking hurt.
We didn’t even get ether for that pull (accounting for the uptick in bad alcoholic behavior among our suffering citizens).
Shit, I think most of us didn’t even see this fucking right hook coming (and I do mean Right hook, if you catch my drift, and I know you do).
Do I think Trump is a devil who needs to face serious legal consequences for the rest of his natural life?
Yep. Sure do.
He and his friends and family inflicted real and lasting damage/suffering on American families.
Mine and yours included, no doubt. But as I saw a friend say on social media today, “I don’t want to go back to before.”
I really don’t. I’ve seen the truth of my country and a few of its institutions (education, healthcare), and I don’t want to go back to before.
I don’t want to go back to the way things were before all of this happened: cancer, the pandemic, the political unrest in my own backyard.
Even if I could make a wish and the cancer, the pandemic, the political unrest would never have happened I would say “no” to that magic genie because I like who I am today far more than I liked who I was in November of 2019.
I like what I see happening in this American political hotbed known as the state of Arizona. (Seriously, the west is truly a WILD place to be right now. In good and bad ways.)
I’m dead serious.
I don’t want to go back because
for someone like me? That Old World SUCKED.
That Old World with its Old Ways really hurt me.
I’m talking about kid me, too. Not just adult me.
Little girl me was hurt by the Old World and the Old Ways.
I don’t want to go back because for the people I love
who are brown or Black or indigenous, the last several hundred years in this mean country have not only SUCKED, but they’ve been deeply and profoundly unfair and our country has to somehow properly atone for this.
Since my white ass ancestors (I’m talking genetics — my actual family didn’t start making their way into America until about the early/mid-1800s.
I am not from a line that was wealthy or well connected enough
to be fucking sailing the high seas in the 1600s.
While Columbus was busy upending and destroying the lives of indigenous people in order to get him and his buddies rich, my European ancestors were hoeing land for a landlord who would pay them just enough coins to buy bread for their babies or blow on a weeklong bender at the local pub — poverty looks more or less the same on everyone, no matter what color skin it’s wrapped in.)
I don’t want to go back, and even if I did
this is not possible.
For those of you who loved your pre-American Pandemic life,
I am so sorry. There were parts I, too, loved
of my pre-American Pandemic life.
The grief is so severe.
I feel this with you, reader.
Pull up a chair.
Cancer Lady here to spin you a yarn by the fire,
to put your little heart, perhaps, at greater ease:
(If I get hit by a bus today will you remember me as the Winston Churchill or Franklin Roosevelt of the American Internet? Thanks.)
When my beloved surgeon told me I had stage iv breast cancer,
it was like the worst fucking thing I’ve ever heard said out loud to me
and about me — and I’ve heard some shit — once had a student
get up in my face and tell me to “stop being such a fuckin’ bitch” —
hearing I had metastatic breast cancer hurt
WAY WORSE than THAT. (Because if I’m being honest, I was kind
of being a bitch that day with said student.)
I mean, in the case of the student,
he was totally being out of line
but he was having a bad day and, in retrospect,
I think every one of my Black students in Milwaukee
were having perpetual bad days because Milwaukee
is an especially shit place to be Black in America — and that, too, is saying something.
Hey, if you’re white and struggling to grasp what I mean by “particularly bad for Black people in Milwaukee” —
imagine my dykey gay ass strolling around the streets of Kingman, Arizona after dark.
Imagine me trying to get a job in Kingman Schools, with my faux hawk and my piercings and my “gay wife”?
(Sorry, Kingman. Maybe I’m making assumptions about you,
but somehow I just don’t think so.) It’s sort of like that but not even close by a mile.
I’ve been to Cottonwood
and I kind of think it’s like Kingman Jr.
I do not feel entirely safe when I am in Cottonwood.
I go there to see my oncologist who used to be in Scottsdale (where I feel uncomfortable for other reasons). I see confederate flags in Cottonwood and “Stop the Steal” signs. When I am in Cottonwood I do not feel completely safe for gender/gayness reasons, unless I am in my doctor’s office where all the people are super cool and nice and this is the story of why I am willing to drive to fucking Cottonwood to get cancer care: cool oncologists are rare in general; rarer still in Arizona. My oncologist is cool.
(Also readers, please promise to protect me if Kingman puts out a fatwa on my gay ass and accompanying loud feminist mouth.)
Anyway. Back to my point.
My doctor. She had to break the news to me and Sarah.
One little month before (gestures wildly at everything over the past thirteen months) this happened. Oh, how it hurt my heart to hear this.
I did not want to have cancer again. And I definitely did not want to have metastatic breast cancer because that meant I would be a cancer patient until my dying day (unless someone hurries the fuck up and figures out a cure — HINT, HINT, SCIENCE! Help a girl out!).
I often dislike the truth.
In the case of cancer, I dislike the truth because it frightens me and outside of taking the best care I can of my little body and doing what my doctors tell me, there’s really not much I can do about this lemon that centuries of genetics and modern medicinal miracles gave my soul to briefly inhabit.
Of course I’m scared of death.
Even fuckin Ted Bundy was scared of death.
And I don’t like taking pills all the fucking time.
And I don’t like wasting my precious time at doctor’s offices.
And I 100% have 100% PTSD around healthcare from a lifetime of carrying around this somewhat-new-but-not-in-great-condition body I’ve always had. And I don’t like that I can’t drink anymore.
And I don’t like that I haven’t been able to smoke a cigarette in a decade because what I wouldn’t fucking give for a Camel Light Wide and a PBR tallboy on a gorgeous sunny day like today.
But I heard the truth and decided to face it. To accept it. To own it.
And guess what?
Had I chosen to hear the truth — “you have cancer” —
and ignore it?
I’d be dead or damn close right now.
And indeed, I’ve had times this dark year where I have felt, as Stephen King’s character so aptly puts it in Pet Semetary, “Sometimes, dead is better.”
But I go on. I like life. I like the people in my life. I like what I am able to do by being alive. Also, I feel an obligation. I have lived a life and in the course of that life have come into contact with people who bonded to me as I have bonded to others. I cannot hurt them by further hastening my end which, by all sound scientific estimates, will come hastily enough if I’m not by turns careful and damn lucky.
My life has been littered with luck, and bitter truths.
Yours’, too, I’m sure.
And what I’ve found is that my biggest, most painful
(emotionally, physically) problems have almost always arisen
from the times when I saw the truth but failed to respect the truth,
failed to acknowledge the truth.
We easily understand this when it comes to our mortal bodies,
but we pretend to struggle with the concept when applied to our communities, our states, our nation.
People are fuckin’ weird.
And of the human species,
Americans are among the weirdest, meanest, and most dangerous.
Have a nice Sunday!
I’m off to my in-law’s (we’re all fully vaxxed except poor Sarah) to eat food and watch the sunset in the Catalina Foothills (seriously, Tucson does sunsets right).