You Are Here: Spring to Spring Side B

You Are Here: Spring to Spring Side B

I wrote this in mid April, right after Side A, and was waiting for some space to go back and take a second look/edit.

Got caught up in a celebration of spring and friends and my birthday (which felt wonderful, fun, life-affirming) and then in quick succession, the death of a friend from cancer (which felt sad, gutting, terrifying, complicated).

But it’s time to flip things over to Side B… even if it’s a little later than I’d figured…

February 2017

You are here, this is one of the first shows you’ve been through since treatment ended six months ago. It’s harder to navigate shows with lots of standing. Walking is no problem, but your legs start to burn if you’re standing for over 20 minutes. The nerve damage from the chemo is still a daily frustration. It’s getting better slowly, though, certainly in your hands you can notice improvement. You can button buttons better again.

You’ve been back to a full-time work schedule for a month, though that’s more out of economic necessity than really feeling like you have the the energy to do it. All of the rehab and PT and working out and walk-a-lot-each-day-but-not-too-much takes a lot of other energy.

You joke with your doctor that you are the first person to use a Fitbit in order not to walk too many steps. You tend to get excited when you have energy and lose track and why not walk to work AND walk home? And then a few hours later your legs are on fire at 3am.

You’re doing all the things you’re supposed to do, and frankly you’re kind of tired of doing so much and feeling so stuck, exhausted, and still looking like a downy baby bird with no eyebrows.

But still, you are trying so hard to make room for joy. To save some energy for the people and things you love, and the reasons you’re excited to be coming out of this weird treatment cocoon.

There is this band you’ve loved since you were like 18. You were obsessed, when obsessed meant more than just heading to YouTube, when it meant finding some way to get some record or even a friend handing you a VHS tape. They’re going to play and you’ve never seen them live so goddammit you ARE going to be there.

You know it will be packed so you go early. You wear sneakers (ugh!) so you can stand longer. Your friend Greg is there and thank goodness he and your husband can hang out in a decent spot, because every 20 minutes you have to go sit down on a table of very expensive t-shirts. But still, you do it!

And The Mummies finally play and are great and fun and messy and it feels so good to be there in this place. You see people you’ve known since forever, and people you’re just getting to know. You make jokes but also still feel incredibly awkward, like a foal who can’t get its legs under it.

 

March 2017

You are getting your legs under you. Through a friend’s incredible graciousness, you get to see Patti Smith (you get to sit for that one). You get to see PJ Harvey.

 

You know you are getting stronger. You can walk farther, but you are still taking a LOT of medicine for pain. Your monthly supply of pain medicine is a full two of these bottles — wide as a can of pop, but taller — pint glass for size.

 

IMG_0239

 

 

 

May 2017

You are here. Your birthday! So many lovely friends celebrate, and you look around at the greenery slowly revealing itself and the life people have bought and brought you, and you think “abundance” and sigh and feel grateful.

You keep trying, and doing, you keep working.

 

April 2018

You are here and you are standing.

You are in this same place you were in just a little over a year ago. There are so many people, all crowded in. You think about the amount of medicine you were still taking a year ago just to be able to stand for 20 minutes at a time, and how now it’s less than a quarter of that.

You are here, but you have gone away on a trip and come back changed. Like some bizarre time travel Einstein shit — everyone but you has been experiencing time in a different way — all while you’ve trekked across the galaxy. It took you one year, but them 20. Or is it the other way around?

To everyone else, you were standing still — slower, even — resting, but there were so many things that shifted — things you’d thought were givens.

You move with your friend and your partner towards the stage, the band is starting. Your partner disappears into the crowd completely. No trace. That used to be your move. So many things have changed, roles flipped, patterns shifted, with new things to figure out.

You stand at the back of the crowd, you spot some folks you love but mostly you just focus on how your body feels the sound. You feel warm and thankful and alive. You don’t need to keep finding places to rest as much anymore.

Here you are, standing on your own two feet.

 


 

 

 

 

You Are Here: Spring to Spring, Side A

You Are Here: Spring to Spring, Side A

march 2015

924129_1572290719706877_381092558_n

ufo factory bathroom

You are here. Your friends are too.
Well, like outside the door. Not IN the bathroom with you.
You are uncomfortable with selfies, but comfortable here.
The walls are pink. You shift your stance in the light. You snap a picture.

10979494_1556146227997601_377143178_n

b-room, driver’s side/backseat studio

You are here. Your feet cross the threshold of a beat-up room you’ve been in before.

You play and record songs with two of the closest people in your life.

Jo is the very best at snacks. You’d considered naming your band Snacks at one point.

You all want to capture this moment in time, and Jo is going to have a second kid. You know things are going to change a lot.

You have no idea how giant that statement really is.

april 2015

dreamland theater, ypsi

You are here. You’re with these same bandmates, playing at a fest you’ve played every year since you started this band/playing bass — including playing right after you graduated school. Even that one year your guitarist had to go take a breastfeeding break in the car. These babes are some the most solid, most make-it-work women that you know. You are loyal.

As you’re starting off, some idiot tosses a beer can and an insult.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 8.42.56 PM

You plant your feet, square your hips, throw that beer can right back and holler right back at him. This boy’s dumb anger is not yours to carry.

You launch into a set that might well be your last as a band, though none you know it yet. You’re having a long-planned surgery in a month, and life’s taking some twists for everyone, as life does.

september 2015

a farm, your house, the doctor’s office

You are here. Look, you’ve recovered from surgery!

You dance, hopping up and down, you celebrate, you stroll out to the fire, warming your feet by it — fancy shoes aren’t really made for the slight chill of a September night in the country.

You find a tiny bump in the shower, so you visit the doctor (he has braces. it’s disconcerting)

He tells you not to worry.
You worry.
You are right to worry.

april 2016

your backyard

You are here, somewhat to your own surprise.

You are so, so tired, but finishing the second part of a three-part, nine-month marathon. You are mostly napping. Wanting nobody to need anything from you. You do not want to be needed. You need yourself and you need other people but they cannot need you, it takes too much.

You go to the hospital every day. You are so. damn. sick. of the hospital. But grateful it can help you. But also, did I mention tired?

Most days when fatigue hits, it’s heavy as a surging wave in the ocean. Suddenly, you need to lay down. You think of those weighted blankets, and imagine someone just running around throwing them on people. That is how it would look. Instant crumpling.

There is no choice, no coaxing the body with caffeine or breath or movement.

12677387_813117695485543_52810387_n

You are here. You are a shadow, in more ways than one. Your silhouette is different, because, wig. You’re wearing a hat because of the suddenly bright sun and hypersensitivity to light. It kind of makes you look like a shootout villain at high noon in a western.

You lay in a hammock under a blanket, in true Michigan style. The crocuses reach upward, and hyacinths pop.

You are here.

13092348_1130023940383745_438860445_n

Sunshine, Jams, Good News!

Sunshine, Jams, Good News!

It’s sunny and beautiful in Michigan today, but it also finally got around to getting cold. Might snow tonight, which I’m actually kinda excited for (don’t get annoyed at me!). It is almost Thanksgiving after all!

We got some mostly-good news as a follow-up to last week’s surgery!

Still waiting on some puzzle pieces (mostly genetic information that will influence chance of recurrence/consideration of additional surgery), but here’s the breakdown so far —

The biggest significant thumbs-up is that the surgeon achieved “clear margins,” which basically just means they have proof through pathology that they were able to get the whole tumor out with a small bit of regular tissue around. Awesome.

Although the growth was slightly larger than they initially thought, it has not spread to the surrounding lymph nodes. Hooray! This is a BIG relief! This likely puts me at Stage 2, but stage 2a, rather than 2b. We will double-check this distinction with the Drs in a big ol’ follow-up appointment on Monday.

The type of cancer that I have (we’ve known this since initial biopsy/diagnosis) is called triple-negative (TNBC), and cells can still spread via the bloodstream, so of course it’s important to follow surgery with full chemo and radiation. But, chemo and radiation were in the plan already, we just didn’t know exactly what types of chemo.

the_ronettes
dream hair

Now taking favorite wig-shop recommendations. If I’m gonna lose my hair, I may as well have a sweet Ronettes ‘do or at least Pleasure Seekers-style bangs/long hair for a little bit!

The good news about triple-negative is that although this type used to be one of the scarier breast cancer diagnoses, research on it has come exceptionally far in the last ten years, and it looks like it sometimes actually responds better to chemotherapy than other types. Its lack of extra hormone receptors also helped me feel more OK doing all the fertility-preservation stuff, and it’s especially lucky that I caught it early, as that improves my prognosis greatly!

So, all-in-all, I’m feeling good (with occasional pangs of nervousness, I mean I’m human), about the outlook and the 6-8 months ahead. It will still be a long haul, but after our introduction to the medical oncologist (chemo expert doc) on Monday, we’ll have a better idea of what things will look like ahead.

My friend Tori and I have had a long history of swapping music and mix CDs (even if we haven’t done it as much the last couple years), and she’s always had great taste.

In fact, she was the very person who introduced me to Chandra’s Transportation EP waaay back when, so it seemed especially perfect timing that a few other friends on tour this last week actually got to catch Chandra perform! File that under things I never thought would happen but am totally psyched did/do. Life, man!

So, in honor of today’s sunshine and good news, I’m sharing a mix she made for me to get me through this last month or so. ❤

Positive Vibrations for your Friday!

*Regular Spotify disclaimer — if you hear something you like on here, think about buying the record or an actual download o’ the song. Art and music are important and deserve your support, financial and otherwise!