Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valiumtimes Day!!

Today, I was talking with a friend about loneliness. Not the type of loneliness that leads to blog writing on a Friday night *ahem*, but that existential loneliness that creeps up temps a temps to smack one upset the head. The kind of loneliness that Valentine's Day seems to have been created to eradicate.

I know, I know, call me a cynic (ah, ah, ah, I am healing from that condition), but doesn't it strike you as a mite bit suspicious that smack-dab in the middle of winter
(no matter how unseasonably warm it's been), we celebrate this thing called Valentine's Day? Oh, I get it, sure, I'll buy some jerk-off some cards, candy or $700 boots, only to have them lie, cheat and be an all-around a-hole? yeah, that sounds good...bitter: they name is woman.

Beyond that, we're in like, an economic crisis or something, but love will save the day, right? Right? RIGHT?????!!! At least, for a day. Possibly maybe. Probably not. But back to this loneliness. It's possible to feel this loneliness, or longing, that has noting to do with Eros, with romantic love, and still be incredibly content, happy and joyous. I'm one of those people for whom romantic love has always been the pinnacle of existence. I lived, blinded by love, as it were.

I'm not hating. When people are in love and experiencing that true partnership with another human being, it's absolutely inspiring and lovely, In fact, the love extends beyond the partners to encompass everyone in the lives of the couple. I've been more desperate in love than I'd like to admit, yet, that feels like a kind of phase I had to encounter in order to see how much it really didn't work.

We certainly need more genuine love, loving-kindness, compassion, generosity and true care in the world. We don't need more rageful, jealous fits ending in violence, boy-meets-girl romances, lies, manipulation and co-dependent patsies in the world. It's hard to come by, this true love, which is extended to all without demand for anything back. Co-emergent with it is this existential loneliness, this knowledge that all the things I have or think I have cannot ease the ache, the longing.

Gratefully, humor provides much relief. Humor and really good music. In honor of both and of St. Valentine, I offer you these. Enjoy!

Teen Girl Squad

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Happy Five Years Shante

As of February 2009, I have been out of all cancer treatments for 5 years. I know I have been celebrating this 5 year anniversary for months, but here's the breakdown:

September 3, 2008-5 year anniversary of my diagnosis
October 1, 2008- 5 year anniversary of my mastectomy
February 1, 2009- 5 year anniversary of end of chemo

So all of my treatment is done and it's been 5 years, uhh, what does that mean?
It's the 5 year survival rate. I had Stage 1 breast cancer, so I have good odds of not kicking the bucket for a while due to cancer. I am a very, very, very blessed and lucky woman. I don't talk much about my cancer because it's become this very present reality to me, almost like a friend, a mundane reality...not that I don't take it seriously, or even get scurred sometimes, but it doesn't rule my life, nor do I live in fear of my death.

So to honor my survival and thriving, a poem:

A few pounds of flesh
taken for granted.
Mouths that caressed,
hands that teased,
fingers splayed on brownness.

I matured young, blood rushing from the space
between my legs at the tender age of eleven,
but the two hills of fat never quite grew.

I was proud of my body: slim, feline, strong.
It withstood the poisons of youthful chemistry,
the risks of promiscuity,
the trauma of neglect,
Arms like bands of steel,
legs small and muscled
a hidden, round jewel of a butt.

It was a day like any other; September, in fact.
A smile upon my face, first day of graduate school.
my nerves, popping, only a year married,
dreams of houses and children and vacations and lectures to give.
plans, designs, hopes, fears, all on 14th street and 8th avenue.

in a moment, he uttered "cancer."
like a whisper, like a curse.
the shock, slapping me, hot tears cascading
and he talks, not without compassion, but he talks and talks and talks
am i going to die? will it eat my flesh and leave me skeletal?
who will tell my wife? my parents? my brothers?
songs lyrics bounce around a lucid mind
mamma i wanna sing
but i must concentrate on how to save my life...

what can happen in 5 years?
a marriage dissolved
a degree earned only to pursue another
fall in love with her, and she leaves
two presidents. one, black, like me.
a dog or two.
saints of Tibet, vows taken, these are not to a woman. or any other person.
wars began, more lives lost.
many more friends and acquaintances touched by cellular overpopulation.
and a scar.

a scar that marks me, separates me.
makes me wonder if anyone could love me
and not be scared of my death, or her own.
a scar that i hid behind prosthetics and strategically placed clothing
until i said fuck it.
i'm asymmetrical in the most tragically comical way.

but on my wall hangs framed, pictures my dear friend took of me.
a day before the cutting, before i became an amputee.
in the light, near the world's most famous bridge
i look so young, beautiful, defiant, terrified, peaceful.

a tank top, eggplant.
locks that would fall out from chemo.
black jeans
a studded belt
silver bracelet glittering
and two breasts, one soon to part.