Sunday, December 16, 2007

bring out yer blogs!

hello all,
even though i have been blogging for a few months now, i'm actually getting really into subscribing to blogs and reading them on a regular basis. within the last week, i've subscribed to so many new blogs that i usually have at least 100 new blogs to read on google reader every day. anyway, if you have a blog, please post it in these comments and i will subscribe and maybe add it to the blog list at the right. thanks!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

not funny #4

ever see those goddamn commercials, with the lady who is like, "i was given two months to live by my doctor. and then i went to Super-Duper Cancer Instituter and my new doctor told me: you have no expiration date." or those fucking pharmaceutical commercials for chemo blood supplements that are like, "i'm ready to fight." i'm get so sick of some of the language surrounding cancer. i understand celebrating the survivor, and keeping hope. i know these are real necessities. but sometimes it goes too far. and i feel like commercials like these are thumbing their noses at the rest of us. like it's my mom's fault she couldn't "kick" cancer. two of the strongest, bravest, most hopeful people i know had cancer. and they still died. the strength of will can be powerful indeed. but sometimes illness is just too real. it's not just in our heads.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

not funny #3

when one of my best friends was going through chemo, i remember very distinctly that moment we were watching TV and she turned to me and said something like, "you know it's not just my head that goes bald. i feel like a 9 year old...." she giggled, but bitterly. i think the thing about chemo and cancer in general is that a lot of it is just romanticized. the throwing up, the balding, the pain. there is something about these parts of sickness that seem heroic--a type of vulnerability that rears its head. but then there are the other things. like constipation, or uncontrollable gas, or returning to pre-pubescent genitalia. i don't know how anyone could see these as heroic. but they are a reality.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

not funny #2

here is my second bumper sticker/t-shirt piece. i have never underwent chemotherapy myself. but i watched both my mother and one of my best friends go through the vomiting, aches, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, etc. of chemo. logically, i understand why chemo is a very effective form of cancer treatment. but emotionally, it has never made sense to me why you need to make someone very sick--usually sicker than they already are--to make them better. i wonder how many oncologist encounter moral dilemmas when they watch a patient retching and screaming in agony because of their prescription. "first, do no harm" seems like a joke at that point. as an onlooker, a caretaker, a friend, chemo has made me sick as well. it's hard to explain. maybe it was that gleam of courage, fear, vulnerability and stubborn determination in my mother's eyes as she sat with an iv in one hand, sipping apple juice with the other. it was just so overwhelming. it made me feel ill. growing from the pit of my stomach and barely staying at the back of my throat. maybe it was my own fear physically manifesting itself in my digestive system. maybe it was pangs of sympathy. i don't know. i only know: chemo makes me sick.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

on humor

did a lot of writing today. about an hour of it consisted of brainstorming a series of bumper sticker/t-shirt slogans surrounding my newly found closeness to mourning. i hope to post more of them as i draw them out (we'll see how that goes). if i do, the series will be called, "not funny."

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

on grief and creativity

i have been writing a review of Eileen Tabios's new book, The Light Sang as It Left Your Eyes: Our Autobiography and it moved me in a kinda major way. i wrote about it on friday in my journal, and i wanted to share that with you (with minimal edits).

sitting on the couch after baking this afternoon, i read eileen tabios's account of watching her father die. it brings me back to those cold december days of driving into boston to watch mom slip from confused sick child to comatose belabored patient. i wonder what mom would say to me, right now as i struggle to be the artist none in her family could be. almost everyone has had the training--endless music lessons, from piano to violin to koto. among those in my mother's family, there were poets, performers, potters, painters. i say that as if she wasn't one of them. she was.

over my piano--the one i have played since i was a child--hangs the last oil my mother painted. i consider it her best--dynamic and haunting, a pastoral scene that seems anything but. yet as much as everyone who calls/ed mom family has been an artist, none have done what i am doing now, giving up livelihood and respectability to claim their career as "artist"--on their tax forms, at dinner parties, in their own minds.

none of them have had the courage (stupidity? naivete? desire in the first place?) to do this. tabios let her father's time of passing become fodder for her art. she writes of her discomfort, her dissatisfaction with doing this. but it marvels me. i recall how mom's death marked a sudden dearth in my creative life. until that day she vomited her last real meal, i had been rapidly creating and exploring.

then it stopped.

for months--years actually--i found no solace in creating, no meaning. i tried. i would touch pen to paper and force out lines, only to drop the instrument and spend the next two hours staring off into space. i couldn't even cry sometimes. but when i did, i lost all faculties. unable to keep from spewing all the liquid in my body from every orifice. shaking, uncontrollably until i was just too tired to continue. finally, last january, six years after my mother's death, a grant opportunity forced me to revisit that era of creative famine.

i wrote a proposal for a solo opera about cancer called "una corda."

yes, it took the grant--the possibility of fame, prestige and money--to integrate the most defining moment of my life into my art. after failing to submit the proposal, i've worked on it very little since. but reading eileen tabios has forced me to wonder, what would happen if i just grit my teeth and walk down that path? who would i meet, and what would they say?