This year I turn 40. And while I have been writing this book for two years now (rather than just thinking of funny shit and tucking anecdotes into notebooks for some “future” date) I have decided that this is the year I finish it.
It’s the Year of 40.
That’s right bitches, Prepare Yourselves!
Many people know that I am a cancer survivor. (Now everyone will know.) If you are reading that for the first time here in the book or blog, then sit down and breathe; it’s true. I was very young the first time (that’s right, first time) I was diagnosed; I was about 2 months from graduating from High School. Over the years, I’ve had three separate battles with cancer, all with their respective horrors and treatments, and I often tell this to people to place into perspective some of the more colorful decisions I’ve made.
For example, when I mention (in casual passing?) that I once awoke naked on the 50 yard line of a college football stadium (with 4 other naked people) because the groundskeeper had literally turned a hose on us (well, the sprinkler system)… I share some perspective.
Perspective often helps those listening when they learn that I was also quite ill, and making decisions based on the brevity of life, rather than focusing on a bright future, like everyone else in college. I was a Here and Now Girl. (I offer no such excuses for those who were with me on these little escapades, other than that the poor bastards were all under my evil charms and just couldn’t help themselves. Picture a cocaine-addled Morgan Le Faye and you’re mind’s eye is just about focused…)
But mention the C-word (CANCER, you dirty birds) and you’d be amazed at the Instant Forgiveness offered for most any tale, most of which people assume are exaggerated. (I let them.) The drugs, the danger, the nudity, the stupidity, ALL disappear when the element of illness is injected and their perspective has changed. It was (and sometimes still is) The Cancer Carte Blanche.
I especially love it when snooty bitches, under the auspices of sympathy, apply the Carte Blanche to fashion. As in “Bless her heart, only a Tramp would wear that dress to church, but you know what? She’s a cancer survivor, so I say “you go girl” and just keep my mouth shut.” Delicious!
But defining your life in terms of survival is not fair, is it? In truth, I’ve survived scarier shit than cancer. But the labeling and interpretation of our lives is on-going. It shifts and changes, and for some it takes on a creative bent that should win some impressive American Academy of Arts and Letters awards. I used to imagine that only career criminals must have a penchant for these particular webs to spin, these imaginative rewrites of their own pasts. But as I grow older, I realize that we all do it in some measure.*
I am happy to be a survivor, but I have taken great pains to never let being a Survivor DEFINE me. Don’t get me wrong, Cancer Sucks. I am not suggesting otherwise. I will walk in a Komen 5K, and empathize and support anyone going through that Hell. I love the NFL October pink fashion statements. But I don’t have a pink ribbon magnet on my car, and I don’t wear “I fight like a girl” t-shirts to the gym.
I have known folks for well over a decade who don’t even know I am survivor because I don’t wear it around like others choose to. Some friends may even get a bit miffed that I didn’t “share” this with them earlier.** I imagine there are those who feel we are too close for them to learn of this is so public a space. But they are wrong. I am still me. I know too many people who let the negative experiences of their lives define who they are; some even relish it. ***
I could never be a card-carrying member of the Woe-Is-Me Crowd. I have no more patience for them. (Aren’t you surprised?) Even less limited then when I was forced to do group recovery therapy in California. But Dear G-d that is another story altogether! (Bookmark that.)
But let’s get back to me turning 40, shall we?
I have made 5 Resolutions this Year.
It’s The Year of 40 List.
#1 I will finish the Book. The book I have been wrestling with for 4 and writing for 2 years now… I will spare you the details, but this involves time management, patience, discipline, and focus. This will be a struggle, as I am only known for one of those things. Guess which one.
#2 I will escalate my Physical Fitness. Last year, I got a trainer who I call Creampuff because he has the cherubic face of a 50s teen idol and it’s often hard for me to take him seriously. But I undoubtedly got into better shape, despite ignoring his sage advice. I can easily lift a 30 pound bag of Otter’s food in each arm now and I breezed through three marathon DisneyWorld days. But best of all, he doesn’t judge, he laughs at my stupidity (rather than pandering to it), and has never complained about the cleaning routine he most likely has implemented following our sessions. When your client sweats vodka, I am sure there is some special citrus disinfectant being incorporated after.
#3 I will Thin The Herd. I seem to have collected people – friends, family, colleagues, people I know both personally and professionally – who feel they know best how I ought to run my life. Many of these operate by guilt, guile, pressures that are both passive and aggressive. And often they judge Hubby too. Which gets me All Fired Up. Judge me all you want. But Hubby’s biggest downfall is that he remains married to a Crazy Lady for No Clear Reason.
Fuck these people who can’t be accountable for their own lives. I don’t owe very many people in this life. And the ones I do, aren’t the ones who are trying to collect. So I am trimming the herd.
I am a grown ass woman and if I choose drink Bloody Marys at 9 am or 9 pm, get a new look, a new job, a new pair of shoes, a new pistol, a new degree, a new hobby, a new tee time, a new friend, a new flight plan, I WILL. I WILL swim naked in a fountain or vacation on the fucking moon, because this is MY LIFE. Bitches, you know who you are. You are Officially On Notice that I can No Longer be Bothered with You.
#4 Get a Boob Job. I am a short-waisted 5’6” with size E boobs. That’s right, bitches, E cups. One more way in which my 30s screwed me. So the sisters are being reduced and relocated (lifted). But more on the Booby Journey later.
#5 Cleanse. I mean physically, yes. (Today is the SuperBowl. Tomorrow I start a six week cleanse. Prayers are appropriate.) But I also intend to cleanse my life of other unnecessary things, including material clutter, all that Crap I accumulated in my 30s. In many ways, my 30s were more brutal than my cancer-riddled twenties. I made some serious compromises and while I do not regret them, I think I am done making them. Ten years of empty hearts, empty homes, empty bank accounts, and I am done with the Emptiness. I’ve paid all the dues I intend to pay.
I want there to be a SURVIVOR term for THAT. To sum up the death, destruction, and dead-ends that were a lot tougher to survive in my 30s than chemotherapy was in my 20s. I want a fucking ribbon car magnet that would garner as much sympathy for THAT. Or better yet, I want a New Carte Blanche for what’s to come. Because what’s next is Gonna Rock.
I made bets with a dozen or more people in my 20s about the day I would turn 40. I still know and love 5 of them, and plan to collect my $100 (each!) when, come March, I turn 40 and I am Neither Dead nor In Jail. That was the deal.
Get ready to Pay Up, Bitches.
I made it.
*Hurricane has become a Master of Revisionist History
**And to those people, I say Shut the Hell Up. If you feel betrayed by this, then get new friends who are as needy as you are and share everything in their lives, usually in 20 minute increments on Facebook. And be happy with these new friends, preferably somewhere far away from me.
*** My girlfriend Leila has become so defined by the negatives in her life it that if she were to actually own some of the amazing positives in her life, and let go of the past, she might actually suffer a true identity crisis. Maybe I could sell tickets.