Archives For Past and Present Collide

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I blame this play for EVERYTHING.

I met her in an acting class in New York city.

Do you know how many stories I could start like that? I met some of the most fascinating people of my life in acting classes.

In 1990’s NYC, I was studying acting with Betty Buckley. She was a “big deal;” you had to audition to be granted entrance to her class.

Betty Buckley won the Tony award for Cats. She was the original Grizabella, the shabby, decrepit old feline who plaintively meows her way through the song “Memories.”

She’s starred in a number of Broadway plays and a whole slew of movies. Before Cats, she spent several years portraying the stepmom in the television equivalent of swallowing ground glass, a banal series called “Eight is Enough.”

She was an amazing teacher but incredibly strange.

She began every class with a new-agey group guided meditation. You know, so the Solar Logos would take us on Astral Flight and we could all experience a Paradigm Shift. That.

Once, in the middle of it, she came up behind me and whispered, “I don’t know what you have going on with your mother. But if you’re going to be an actor, you’d better go into therapy and get in touch with it.”

I spent the next 5 years in psychotherapy. Thank you, Betty.

Nicolette distinguished herself from the rest of the class instantly, by the sheer scope of her physical beauty. She was stunning.

Her hair. I could write a whole post just about her hair. Her glossy chocolate brown hair spilled down beside her face, framing it perfectly. It was a curtain of brown silk.

She had enormous blue eyes, cupid bow pink lips,  and the golden proportion of perfect white teeth. Her body was cartoonish perfection with a tiny waist and oversized breasts.

Betty zeroed right in on her. She was known for having young female protegés who do all her errands, and take a lot of abuse from her. Nicolette quickly became her new handmaiden, which later irritated me to no end. She once sported a torn up lip where Betty’s insufferable bird bit her, while she tried to feed the feathery fucker.

Nicolette was so sweet. I couldn’t believe anyone THAT beautiful could be so sweet.

She wasn’t.

We were assigned to do a scene from “In the Boom Boom Room,” a renowned play about go go dancers in a sleazy night club.

Betty was relentless when it came to scene study. She demanded we bring in the same scenes repeatedly.

The scene Nicolette and I had been assigned took place in the dressing room, as one dancer, played by me, tries to seduce the new girl – played by Nicolette.

Because I was a method actor, I convinced Nicolette to perform the scene in our bra and panties. Method, schmethod. I wanted to see her in her underwear.

In the scene my character asks hers, “Have you ever made love to a woman?” I was so smitten with her I decided to grab her and lay a big old kiss on her. And because I wanted her reaction as real as the character’s – I didn’t tell her I was planning to do that

We rehearsed together all that first week, sans kiss. And then, we brought the scene to class.

When walked on stage in our underwear, mine jet black, hers, blood-red – there was a collective sharp intake of breath.

Actors are FREAKS. But still. Two nubile 20 somethings, in almost nothing? And Nicolette, with her breasts spouting all over the stage.

When I leaned in and kissed her, I thought her character would jump back in surprise.

Her character probably would have. Nicolette didn’t. So we just stood there, sucking serious face, for waaaay too long. Like, absurdly long. Like, “this isn’t even about the scene” long.

The kiss started from the neck up. A minute in, our bodies were pressing together.

And kept pressing…

“SCENE!”  Betty pussy blocked me and ended a kiss that tasted like dessert. Bitch.

And that’s how I found out Nicolette was a lesbian.

I felt like I had won the motherfucking LOTTERY.

The next time I went to her apartment to “rehearse” we did absolutely NO rehearsing.

How do women have lesbian sex? Ohh. I didn’t TELL you?

Must have been NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.

We did rehearse, on subsequent visits. Betty the big dyke made us rehearse that scene for 2 months. Finally she could find no fault with us.
“What do you say, girls?” she asked. “Should we call it quits? Or do you think you want to bring in back in one more week?”

“No, Betty,” I answered. “I think Eight is Enough.”

I was besotted with Nicolette. She was the first ultra feminine, girly lesbian I’d ever known.

She was flowery mini dresses; I was a black leather skirt. She was brunch, I was “Is this breakfast? Lunch? Fuck you!” She wore her lustrous brown hair in a French braid. I dyed my hair to match hers but when I put it up it looked like a Hefty bag with a twist tie.

She was a talented dancer. I played drums in a punk band, without knowing how to play drums.

But vive la différence, right? We became a Thing.

Nicolette’s personality was no flowery dress. She was a BITCH. And not your Basic Bitch, either. A prize-ribbon wearing, Grade A, Queen Bee DIVA bitch.

She was completely self absorbed. If I was sick, she would whine about missing a pedicure to bring me soup. She was a half hour late for every thing, every time. With NO apologies. She constantly one-upped me. If I had a headache, she was dying of a brain tumor. She was rude and impatient with waiters and waitresses. If we were out to brunch God forbid she didn’t get a bread plate. She was programmed to receive attention, and expected all of mine.

We might have survived all of this – had it not been her refusal to accept I wasn’t a lesbian.

Lesbians invariably try to convert sexually ambiguous women. According to Nicolette, I was a full throttle lesbian in unequivocal denial.

Yeah, NO. I like penis too much to be a lesbian. Sorry. I wasn’t quite ready to drive a U Haul truck to Lilith Fair.

We ended our relationship amidst of storm of emotions, talked about it until my ears bled, and eventually parted friends.

Nicolette and I lost touch for the next 15 years. Maybe, I just didn’t want her to know I’d gotten married, moved to the suburbs, had a kid.

Maybe,  I didn’t want to know I’d done that.

A few years ago, she found me on the Book of Face (where else?) and eventually we made plans to get together.

We had dinner in Manhattan. Nicolette was still beautiful. Maybe more so? And BITCHIER, if that’s even possible.

She was now running an ultra trendy club which cuts a wide swath in the currency of bitchiness.

After dinner we went to a club to scout some acts she was thinking of featuring.

We ended up on the dance floor, because some things never change. Neither of us can be in a place with a dance floor and not dance. There was also alcohol involved. Many of my bad decisions have been alcohol-fueled.

“When I’m Small” by Phantogram came on.

Oh, C’MON! That song sounds like the soundtrack to two women grinding on a dance floor together, kissing passionately.

I am NOT suggesting that happened. Her list of neuroses make me look like a stable, calm individual. And that’s scary.

So, she’s in my life again, this lesbian She-Devil. Demanding, critical, self-centered, spoiled.

Gorgeous. Charismatic. Brilliant. Effervescent. And those breasts…

I’ve tried to end this post for a few days now. I can’t. I just realized…it’s because, the story hasn’t ended. 

“I think choosing between men and women is like choosing between cake and ice cream. You’d be daft not to try both when there are so many different flavors.”
~ Bjork

“I’d rather die, than to be with you…”
Perfect lyrics. She’ll eat my soul, this woman. Who, incidentally, looked exactly like the woman in this video when I first met her.

Have you ever had a friend who was impossibly bitchy? Do gorgeous people get away with that easier?
Can someone like women and not be a lesbian? 
Talk to me.  I’m listening. 

 

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…my shoe was broken.

My 10 year old lectured me.

“It’s morning, Mama! Do you realize it’s MORNING??”

I was about to tell him not to lecture ME; I was the mom here.

I opened my mouth. And hurled into the kitchen sink.

 

This is all the doing of my college BFF.  She is a walking cyclone.

A full throttle unrepentant trouble maker.

She’s been my partner in crime over 25 years, ever since we were freshman in college.

We were the lone New York girls adrift in a sea of lame Midwestern chicks.

 

My BFF is a tough ass Latina chick from the South Bronx, a hard core rock and roller, and an empty nester.

This is a deadly combo.

She had her kids as soon as we graduated college, and after over 20 years of marriage, got divorced.

She was diagnosed last fall with Stage 3 breast cancer.

 

She lives every day as if it were her last.

 

In college, our mayhem was legendary.

I’m not just talking about our Intergalactic Voyage parties; in which we distributed pharmaceutical grade LSD to hundreds of students so they could get zonked out of their gourds.

I mean, literally legendary.

She is actually written into the pledge book of a popular fraternity at our alma mater.

She was so butt-toast hammered in the back of a limo en route to a fraternity formal, that she dropped a lit joint in her lap.

Her dress caught fire.

She looked down and deadpanned,

Holy shit, I’m on fire.”

To this day, when a freshman is pledging that frat, and has to memorize facts in the pledge book,

one of the questions asked is, “Who said, ‘Holy shit, I’m on fire’?”

The answer? My BFF.

 

We both idolize Patti Smith, and when her birthday concert was announced for last December 30, we bought tickets. Immediately.

Patti was playing at Webster Hall, a club in Manhattan 2 blocks from my old apartment in the East Village.

Lot of memories from that place.

Dating all the way back to when it was The Ritz, a premier rock club in the 1980’s.

 

She and I and our freshman year boyfriends drove to Manhattan from upstate NY to see shows there.

Over the college years we had other boyfriends.

But we stayed friends with these two, because of our love for music.

And each other.

 

Freshman year, the 4 of us we saw the Beastie Boys at The Ritz over Christmas break.

Sophomore year, the 4 of us saw The Ramones at the Ritz for my birthday in September.

The Ramones. I could do a whole blog post on Joey Ramone. I will, someday.

Senior year, the 4 of us saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

I still remember the exact set list, because we stole it off the stage.

 

Since divorcing, she’d rekindled her romance with her college flame, R, who was also divorced and living in Brooklyn.

He was still best friends with M, my old college flame.

 

The last time I saw either of them, it was 20 years ago at a New Year’s Eve party at the Paramount Hotel in midtown Manhattan.

M was in law school in the city.

I was in a black rubber dress and heroin.

A lot had changed in the 4 years since we graduated.

 

When we found out that they were going to the same show, and wanted to meet up with us –

I shit a cold purple Twinkie.

It’s unnerving to see an old flame you haven’t seen in 20 years.

Of the four of us, M was the only one still married.  Apparently his marriage was on the rocks, and he was about to be separated.

 

Oh, shit. 

 

My BFF traveled to my house from Boston, and we spent the late afternoon making ourselves look like club sluts primping for our night out.

My kid FREAKED when he saw me dressed for the show.

 

I was in skin tight black clothing from head to toe, lots of cleavage showing, thigh high black stiletto boots, and more makeup than I normally wear in a week.

My poor kid. He blocked the door to try to prevent me from leaving.

“Mama – you can’t go OUT looking like that! Everyone’s going to LOOK at you!”

 

“Little Dude,” my BFF said, “that’s the whole point.”

 

We took the bus into the city. No driving tonight.

I planned to get a little buzzed that night, not inebriated.

I’m a total lightweight when it comes to alcohol.

I get stupid on half a glass of wine.

She, on the other hand, planned on getting rat-ass  kootered.

My girl can drink.

 

The club was packed with about 2,000 fans. All hail the Punk Poetess.

It was a bizarre mix of people; ranging in age from 20 to 60.

United only by the demographic of worshipping the Godmother of Punk.

R had texted her that they were at the bar of the club, near the back.

I spotted them as soon as we walked towards the bar.

 

That M.

He was still really cute.

He hadn’t changed a whole lot in 20 years.

It was like a time warp.

Almost instantly, everything was just like it used to be with the 4 of us.

The same exact energy was there.

 

Oh shit. 

 

M wanted to buy me a drink. I didn’t know what to have.

He suggested Vodka and Red Bull.

He told me it was “Refreshing. Like soda.”

 

He’s a FUCKING LIAR.

 

What happens is, you get drunk, but you’re so gorked on 5000 mg of caffeine, you don’t realize it.

So you keep drinking them.

Which is what I did.

 

The lights dimmed and the stage went black.

The band started to play the unmistakable and haunting opening strains to Lou Reeds, “Heroin.”

A few months earlier, Patti Smith had written a gorgeous eulogy to him when he died.

Her male counterpart, the Godfather of Punk.

 

Now, she was opening the night in an homage to him, and one of his greatest songs.

It took the audience a collective 5 seconds to recognize the song she was opening with – and then –

they went HOG WILD OFF THE WALLS FUCKING BONKERS BAT SHIT CRAZY.

2000 people screaming and clapping.

This is the kind of shit New Yorkers are famous for.

When it comes to honoring one of our own, it’s no holds barred.

 

I had so many emotions running through me that night.

This club. The location. My old neighborhood.

The opening song. Heroin. My demon.

My BFF

Her cancer.

These men. The boys we dated in college.

 

When we first spoke at the bar, M asked me about my husband.

“I’m not married anymore. I left him.”

He said,

“Of course you did. That’s what you DO.”

 

“Drunk” is an understatement to describe my condition.

Ossified. Comboozelated.

The kind of wasted where you lose your underwear (I didn’t.)

The show ended at 11:30.

The night went on forever.

 

I remember walking through the cold windy streets of downtown from one bar to another. And another.

I have no memory of where, exactly.

At some  point my shoe broke.

I think…I fell?

That would explain me getting so dirty.

Partly.

 

We ran the streets like we were 19.

My heart was free that night.

My mind traveled back in time, and I had no responsibilities.

No kid. No mortgage. No worries.

 

Things were said that shouldn’t have been.

Things happened that shouldn’t have.

 

We kept missing buses back to NJ.

The 2 am. The 3 am.

My BFF and I ended up on a 6am bus back to the suburbs.

We left the glittering city of hope and promise and rode the bus into the gray oppressive suburban morning.

I had no coat.

I had lost it at some point, and spent the night with M’s jacket around my shoulder.

 

The last thing I remember that night is him walking me on the bus – literally, onto the bus, taking his jacket back, and giving me a very soft kiss goodbye.

Just a peck on the lips.

And me looking up at him.

Then, I passed out.

 

 

M texted me the next day, and the day after that.

I never responded to him.

Of course you did. That’s what you DO.”

I just heard through the grapevine he’s back with his wife.

Good.

 

 

We got off the bus and had no ride back to my house.

It was a mile walk.

I hobbled drunkenly, my shoe broken.

I fell again.

That would account for why I was dirty.

Partly.

 

I walked in my house at 7 am.

Dirty, drunk.

My shoe was broken.

My 10 year old lectured me.

 

My BFF started the worst 5 months of her life January 7th, one week after the concert.

The chemo nearly killed her.

She kept having seizures and almost fatal temperatures after every treatment.

After that, months of radiation burned her body to the point of blistering.

But she’s ALIVE.

 

We have tickets to go see an epic concert at The Stone Pony in July.

 

The Stone Pony is an iconic New Jersey venue. Bruce Springsteen started his career there, and is known for dropping in unexpectedly.

It’s in Asbury Park, right on the beach.

 

Our old college flames are thinking of getting tickets to the same show.

 

GOD HELP ME. 

 

 

Do you have that one friend who gets you into all kinds of trouble? Are you still friends with your college roommate?
Have you ever encountered an old flame, after a very long time?
Talk to me. I’m listening.

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I hate thinking about where I grew up.

I’ve written about it before. That housing project. The poverty. The ugliness. The emotional damage.

The fear. The lack of safety.

Being a lone white face in sea of black. Persecuted for the color of my skin.

Hanging on the lovely terrace

 

RZA, the brilliant rapper, actor, producer and mastermind of hiphop group Wu-Tang Clan called out my neighborhood in what is considered one of his best songs, “Impossible.”

Stapleton’s been stamped as a concentration camp.”

Enough.

Today, I want to remember what was BEAUTIFUL about growing up in that housing project. And to reclaim, and yes- embrace,

BEING A PROJECT GIRL.

 

 

COMMUNITY.

It took work to fit in. But in a housing project, there is a sense of community.

My God, it was a beautiful thing.

In the middle of all of the buildings was a huge playground. ALWAYS filled with laughing children, even in winter.

KaBoom gear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You didn’t have to have anyone “watch” you. There were always parents outside, and they looked out for everyone’s kids.

Where I live now, in the suburbs, nobody plays outside. When I take my son bike riding around the neighborhood, we  spot the occasional kid running around in his back yard.

He’s always from Brooklyn.

In the projects, when you stepped outside, there was magic.

Skelly. Hopscotch. Bikes, scooters. Basketball. Really, really good hoops- banging a jump shot was an ART form. Little Dude is not that into sports, but he plays basketball every week at the local Y because…because.

And jump rope.

Heart. Squeeze.

I was REALLY GOOD at Double Dutch.

The TRICK is to enter from the side, not the middle– to stand close enough to the turner to where you could touch her shoulder.

I cannot adequately express how it feels to be a white girl working it on a housing project playground.

Executing a perfect Double Dutch circle turn, which is all about turning speed, leg position, and listening, yes, listening to the ropes…

Then touch the ground while jumping, and exit, all without missing a step.

Damn. If it’s even 40 degrees this weekend, I’d love to see if I still got it.

 

 

FIRE HYDRANTS

Everyone here has swimming pools.

What they don’t know is the sheer ecstasy of unleashing an icy cold blast of water from a fire hydrant on a 95 degree day. That oasis from the baking heat.

The city got tired of kids jimmying the fire hydrants open with monkey wrenches, and eventually installed sprinkler caps that could be opened on those hot days.

The only way my kid could ever appreciate this is to have him hang out in a blistering heat wave for 4 days straight –

with no air conditioning.

And then unleash the COLDEST WATER EVER on him and his friends, while they jumped and screamed like maniacs.

 

hydrant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know that the image of an opened hydrant for many signifies “ghetto.”

But for me, an open hydrant is a joyful NYC tradition of a working class neighborhood in the summer.

 

 

MUSIC.

I had older brothers school me in rock. But the soundtrack to the playground was R&B. That was the beat that throbbed through the projects, and in my blood, where it traveled to my heart and lives forever.

It gave me RHYTHM. Shit, I can DANCE.

I was 10 when that first explosion of rap tore up the housing project and laid eggs in my brain that never left.

Sugarhill Gang “Rapper’s Delight.”

I’m a sucker for old skool stuff. And those 90’s rap jams? When I was clubbing?

I know why I don’t always fit in here. Even though I turn down the music when I pick my kid up at his friend’s house, it’s so loud the parents can hear NWA blasting “Kill the Police” as I roll up the street.

And it probably scares them a little.

 

 

WALKING EVERYWHERE

Because you could. A housing project is it’s own microcosm of society. Everything is within walking distance. Schools. Stores.

Broad Street had everything.

Store of a Million Items, (you could DIVE in with 3 bucks and not surface for DAYS), Mauro’s Pizzeria, Tung Bo Chinese, Andy’s Candy.

And in the 70’s, a kid could walk 4 blocks to a candy store alone and it was okay. Which led to wondrous journeys.

The place I walked the most was exactly 5 blocks from my apartment.
And walk there I did. Starting at the age of 7.

 

THE LIBRARY.

 

My Shrine

My Shrine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I searched for pictures, this came up. This gloriousness.

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The original library is now THE CHILDREN’S ROOM.

The New York Public Library renovated my old library, doubling its original size. It now includes a light-filled, sleek, 7,000-square-foot addition connected to the original 4,800 square-foot-branch.

HUGE. HEART. SQUEEZE.  Right. About. Now.

 

TOLERANCE

I endured a lot of racism.

But I also grew up comfortable around all kinds of people, which prepared me for life in the real world, as it should be.

And I get to pass that on to my son. Although it’s challenging to find that kind of diversity where we live, he is growing up with the kind of acceptance that most adults around here lack.

We are surrounded by racism, but my background has afforded me the ability to spare my child, he who is the consciousness of tomorrow, that ignorance.

Perhaps, this was the greatest blessing of all.

I AM A PROJECT GIRL.

It’s such an odd duality of my existence – my educated side, the spiritual and loving person; juxtaposed with this ghetto project girl.

Being a project girl is a double-edged sword. It gave me a toughness and an ability to survive things that most people do not possess. But I sometimes respond to the challenges of life like a trapped rat, lashing out in anger.

As brilliant Brenda from Burns the Fire articulated it,
“I am fearless and filled with fear.”

 

 

I’M A PROJECT GIRL.

When my kid came home from kindergarten 6 years ago, and told me some kid had been messing with him at recess, I did not do any of the things a “typical” suburban mom would do.

I did not call the school. Email the teacher. Reach out to this other child’s parents.

I leaned in to my boy’s face, and said, “the next time he messes with you, you just PUNCH HIM IN THE FACE.”

And the next time this kid tried to mess with Little Dude,

SHIT GOT REAL, YO. 

And my kid, while no bully, has never been picked on since.

 

My then husband just laughed.

“You can take the girl out of the projects, but you can’t take the projects out of the girl.”

Werd.

 

I’ll lead you out with LL Cool J’s 1990 ode to the Project Girl, “Round the Way Girl,” which he was singing Just. For. Me.

meow.

 

 

What was it like where you grew up? Did you fit in?
Talk to me. I’m listening.

My slam poetry mentor.

The baddest bitch on the Lolla bus.

This is for ME. And for her.
I can’t believe there’s barely anything on WordPress.

RIP, girl.

Love, S.

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Gen-X Icon, Poet and Novelist Maggie Estep Dead at 50

In the early Nineties, she performed spoken word alongside Henry Rollins and appeared at Lollapalooza and Woodstock ’94

February 13, 2014 11:05 AM ET

Maggie Estep, a poet and novelist who helped popularize slam poetry and had a heavy presence on MTV in the early Nineties, died Wednesday in Albany, New York. Two days earlier, she had suffered a heart attack, according to The New York Times.

In the early Nineties, Estep was a regular on MTV, which gave her a platform for her wry poetry and forked-tongue observations. The channel cast her, alongside Henry Rollins and other spoken-word artists, on a spoken-word-focused episode of Unplugged. And it included her video for “Hey Baby,” which showed off her penchant for black humor and curl-lipped reaction to pickup lines, on an episode of Beavis and Butt-head. She also appeared on the HBO program Russell Simmons’s Def Poetry Jam.

Offscreen, Estep appeared onstage with Rollins, Jim Carroll and John S. Hall and took part in the Free Your Mind spoken-word tour and made appearances at Lollapalooza ’94 and Woodstock ’94. She also released an album, No More Mr. Nice Girl, in 1994, and a follow-up, Love Is a Dog From Hell, three years later. She released several novels, beginning with Diary of an Emotional Idiot, in 1997, and her work was anthologized in several books, including The Best American Erotica and Brooklyn Noir 2. She was working on a book titled The Story of Giants at the time of her death.

She was born Margaret Ann Estep in 1963 in Summit, New Jersey, to racehorse-trainer parents, and she grew up in Canada, France, Colorado and Georgia. She moved to New York City as a teenager after dropping out of high school.

In New York, she worked briefly as a go-go dancer and picked up a heroin addiction. She began writing fiction while in rehab. In 1986, Estep took a class taught by beat author William S. Burroughs at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, and eventually received a bachelor’s degree in literature. In recent years, she kept a blog, and she published her most recent post, “Strippers, Sluts and Umlauts,” last Friday.

Estep got her start performing after a friend dragged her to an open-mic night, according to the Los Angeles Times. She later read her works at New York’s slam-poetry hub the Nuyorican Poets Café. Recounting her first time doing spoken word, she told the L.A. Times in 1994, “I read and did really well. I seemed to have an immediate affinity to do it. . . . I got so nervous, I’d just rush through things and just pace. It evolved into my signature.”

The New York Times reports that she is survived by her mother, Nancy Murray, two half-brothers, Jon and Chris Murray, and a half-sister, Ellen Murray.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/gen-x-icon-poet-and-novelist-maggie-estep-dead-at-50-20140213#ixzz2tLsQZOxY

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Punch in the Face Impact

Hot Kiss At the End of A Wet Fist

Daily Prompt: BFFs

The big “C” has met its match in the form of my BFF, a formidable Bad Ass from the Bronx, and they don’t play. 

Her cancer is teaching people a lesson in strength the likes of which they’ve NEVER seen.

This is a how-to list for people who want cancer to feel a punch like the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist.

1. Get pissed off.  Not sad. Not “why me.”

More like, This is bullshit!

“I have things to do. I have Lucero tickets in Boston. I’m seeing Patti Smith at Webster Hall.

I have a 3 day Americana Festival in Little Rock with friends all over the country.

My students cannot have a cruddy substitute for a month.

I do not have TIME for this CRAP.”

2. Do NOT buy anything pink. It’s not flattering for your complexion.

Refuse to be a walking billboard for “I have breast cancer.”

When the Zappos box comes with the pink Air Jordans Breast Cancer Awareness Limited Edition, call the responsible party (me),

“The FUCK?”

Refuse the offer of matching pink breast cancer awareness tee shirts from your college bestie as if she’s just offered you mouth herpes.

Tell her, If you want to buy me something, buy me some really good wine.

I could use a drink, or three.

3. Go to work. Go the gym. Live your life. Keep on keeping on.

4. Do research. The best doctors. The best hospital. The one across from Harvard Medical school. If there ever was a time to be an “academic SNOB” this is it.

Be very, very picky about the doctors cutting you open. This is not about how lean a butcher can cut a brisket.

5. Tell only a few people. But the word gets out.

Don’t listen appreciatively to those “It was horrible, but in the end I realized I was not my breasts” stories.

Be brutally honest. As always.

Tell them, “YOU are married. 20 years. You’re not your breasts. You’re probably not even your vagina.

I am single. I am DATING. Men like tits. So, shut the fuck up.”

6. Go to work. Go the gym. Live your life. Keep on keeping on.

7. For the first and maybe only time in your life, ask for help. Stop being so goddamn independent.

This ONE time. Allow your college bestie to arrange to take a week off from work to stay with you after the surgery. You’re going to need help.

8. WORK like a maniac to make sure every little thing in your classroom is handled while you’re gone for a month.

Your students will not miss a beat while you’re out. These are your kids. They matter.

9. On the morning of your surgery, when they screw up, and painfully inject you with tracers, repeatedly, WITHOUT sedation, get ANGRY.

Cuss a blue streak. Cause a SCENE.

When the doctors tell you they can’t operate on you if you’re “worked up” like this, tell they can go FUCK themselves.

And offer to stick knitting needles in their ball sacks.

10. Sneak your cell phone in the recovery room, against the rules.

After waking up from recovery, drug-text your friends. They have no clue what you’re writing, but they are so happy.

Text your BFF:

plsc sturgn i HOT! haha fkc

She sees this, and knows you are fine.

11. That night, have the nurse take a picture of you giving 2 thumbs up and send it to all your friends. It’s the best picture everyone’s ever received.

12. Leave the hospital looking like a movie star. Sunglass. Scarf tied with flair. Cute boots. Look a thousand times better than your bestie, who just drove 300 miles on no sleep to take care of you. Bitch.

13. Don’t rest, despite what the doctors say. You have a high pain threshold – you always have.

14. When you thank your BFF for being here, she reminds you that you, in fact, saved HER life freshman year when she washed down quaaludes with far too much alcohol, and you had to call an ambulance so she could get her stomach pumped.

Somehow, on all those pain meds, remember every detail of that story from 27 YEARS AGO. Laugh your ass off.

“Hahahah you drank 17 White Russians because it was your 17th birthday!!

We came to get you out of the hospital the next day and there were bars on the window hahahahaha.”

Repeat that story to EVERY PERSON WHO COMES TO THE DOOR THAT day.

The visiting nurse. The flower delivery person. A neighbor stopping by with food.

15. LAUGH. CONSTANTLY .

Stay up late with your BFF, making jokes and laughing about everything and everyone.

Extra points if it’s a sex joke, at this very unsexy time in your life.

Double extra points if it’s about that gross blood pus drain your BFF has to empty three times a day.

Double Triple extra points if you combine sex AND drain jokes:

Hey, lets’ go cruise Brockton for black men!

“C’mere, Big Daddy! You may have fucked a white girl before, but did you ever fuck one with a drain?”

16. Don’t take any pain meds after the first day. Not one, you bad ass.

Let your college bestie have them.

Not really.

Okay, just a few.

17. BLAST MUSIC. Lots of it. CONSTANTLY.

Dance around the house with your bestie. Try not to pop a stitch.

18. WAKE YOUR BESTIE UP BY SCREAMING INTO THE PHONE REALLY LOUD AT 8 AM when you find out they’ve not gotten a long term sub for your class.

Spend 2 hours ranting on the phone to the department supervisor.

You may have cancer, but your students will NOT fall an entire month behind because of it.

19. Go on the Victoria Secret website and ship for beautiful, sexy bras.

You’re getting new breasts in a couple of months. They’re gonna need a new home.  Several.

20. NINE days after your surgery, make it to the Lucero concert, as promised. The whole Boston indie music scene applauds when you walk in the door.

Including the band.

21. One month, post surgery, go back to work. Go to the gym. Live your life. Keep on keeping on.

22. When you get the pathology report back after the surgery, and

It’s worse than you thought. Way worse.

Don’t get scared. Or angry.

Because once again, you get that little voice in your head – you got it when you had the brain tumor, remember?

The one that said, “everything is going to be okay.” I believe this is what they call “Faith.”

23. Never, ever, once feel sorry for yourself. Why YOU? Because. Shit happens. This is not a death sentence. Not yet.

24. Make your usual Christmas plans with your family and bestie and her kid. Invite MORE people than ever.

Tell her, hell yes, I can do this. I have cancer. I’m not DEAD.

25. Cause your bestie to DRIVE off the road into a snowbank when you text her, “HELLO, it’s me!” And it’s an enormous picture of you, completely bald.

That was fast. One chemo treatment.

Hope your insurance covers my front end alignment, you crazy bitch.

26. Don yourself with armor. Prepare to do battle. Arm yourself with knowledge. Ready yourself for radiation, chemo. More surgery.

You are fierce.

You are a warrior.

27. Most of all, YOU ARE LOVED. By so many.

And – your BFF, for almost 30 years now,

your-sister-of-the-heart,

that girl whose life you saved when she was 17?

IS NOT READY TO LET YOU GO? Okay?

So you go, girl!

Beat cancer like it stole something!

 

Have you been close to someone fighting cancer? How do you help them? 

Talk to me. I’m listening. 

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