...and they lived happily ever after. Smith & Lady: poets, artists, photographers & adventurers.
Our relationship was forged to the soundtrack of Yoko Ono's magic,
frenetic, love-laden song, "Walking On Thin Ice." ( play song )
You are currently browsing the archives for the Cancer journey category.
Walking on Thin Ice is not about the world losing polar ice caps. We’re going to stop that. We’re going to thicken those ice caps right back up. We’re going to populate the glaciers again. We’re going to make sure there’s an adequate head of snow on the Himalayas and everywhere else that its needed. Cool breezes bleeded.
This blog is named after the Yoko Ono and John Lennon song. It’s the first song by Yoko Ono I ever heard, and smith introduced me to it. In my opinion, it is one of the most far out yearning and tragic songs ever made. They were finishing up the song the day Lennon died. I only learned a long time after naming the blog that such sadness had happened around the generation of the song.
When I listen to it, it brings back the giddy creativity, the yearning sated, the ecstatic discovery I experienced when I hooked up with smith. I listened to it on “The Best of Yoko Ono” album over and over, spooling my Miata around, lost and found. It was novel, yet old. Like smith.
In the months after we hooked up, I’d collapse on his rocking chair sofa and poof into smoke. He told me the rest of his stories for his memoir. I tore down his cancer. I spackled the walls. I barfed as he was irradiated. We made art. Night time was Ono and Meat Beat Manifesto. Morning was Mingus, breakfast and golden sun.
Walking on Thin Ice, in the song, is about daring do on the edge.
Walking on Thin Ice is about adventure.
Walking on Thin Ice, in smith & lady’s lives, is about walking on water.
Original post down below. I am strongly feeling that the staples on my roof seem to think I was wrong & I tend to agree with them.
– – –
As a person with a BSEE,a background in neural nets and search engine optimization, I belive (believe) I am receiving scientific messages which could be interpreted as holy messages (for me they are one and the same.)
I am not entirely certain, but I think I heard on the radio that J (Lebron James) is Jesus. (I do believe, I think.) Hard to tell. Will try to be truthful in what I’m picking up.
Now, off to good faith work. Seems like a harsh think (thing) for a prophet, but I must do my work for my loved ones.
It’s our second anniversary. Smith & I hooked up September 9, 2005. We’re in bed. I look into his eyes, and his face looks friendly. “Your irises have a purple edge,” I say. “And then they’re green and orange and rust brown next to the pupils.”
“They’re hazel,” he says.
We kiss, unhurriedly. I’ve devoted this day to him, to bed, to whatever it is we might want to do together. The kiss feels good, and I remember what it was like when we first kissed. How our mouths fit, how he made a little noise, an “umpf” when we kissed that first night. How if we take time to kiss, I still hear that “umpf” of pleasure.
“I’ve got to remember that we can do this,” I say.
“Well, I have my companion, my love, my best friend. And we’re together all the time, but my mind is diverted by writing and correspondence and art. But what I like most is to spend unstructured time with you. I enjoy just being in your arms, kissing you.”
“Yes,” he says. “I understand the art and writing, but what I don’t understand is when you’re finished with that, and you go on the computer rather than spending time with me.”
“I don’t understand it either,” I say. “I’d much rather talk to you than read the news or read blogs obsessively. And I’m so pleased that you actually want me to pay attention to you. That’s what I want in a companion. I’m so honored to have you. It’s such a relief to have you. But things are always complicated, aren’t they? When you get what you want, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Happily ever after involves work.”
“Happy Anniversary to you, too. Just think of how much we’ve experienced since we left last year. It seems like it’s been years.”
“It’s been a full two years. And we’ve changed.”
“Yes. We are different people now.”
I look at Smith’s neck. I’m worried because he spends so much time in the sun, but I don’t hassle him about it. The radiation treatments he had to treat the cancer last year aged the skin under his throat. Where it used to be tight, it’s slack. But it’s tightened up a little bit lately. I think, “I’m going to put some positive energy on his throat.” I kiss it, and draw back.
“I love you,” Smith says. His eyes are now dark slits. Little drops of light are reflected in his irises from the window.
“I love you, too. My one. My true love.” I kiss his chest. It’s dotted with freckles that grow more dense towards his shoulders. His nipples are pink. It seems weird to recognize mammalian features on Smith. Precious to know his naked body.
Smith looks beyond me to the window. “The pattern on the lace curtains is a repeating vase with flowers.”
I look at the lace. Through its holes, cerulean blue sky, and purple mountains in the distance. I’d looked at the pattern for a long time, but absentmindedly, and I’d not seen the vases. But now they coalesce. I think, “I promise you, my true love, I will spend more time just talking with you. What is this all for other than to be with you?”
I left my husband in 2 oh oh 2 for poetry. A month later, I was laid off and a firefighter poet moved in with me. I never got back into an engineering job. I resorted to web development for a couple years at less than half my former salary. In March ’05, I became suicidal from the pointlessness of what I was doing at the office and the futility of my lukewarm relationship. I decided to try bulimia, hoping that if I got thin enough that someone would find me attractive and rescue me or that I’d die bent over a toilet, heart attack from electrolyte imbalance. The firefighter got sick of my sickness, dumped me in June ’05.
I met Smith at the start of my activities in the poetry community. He had a croaking whisper of a voice. He often came to readings smelling like grass. I was jealous of his irreverent poetry, the compelling stories from his past, his outlaw art and his 20 year ArtCrimes publication. I read and re-read the last issue of ArtCrimes, thought it the epitomy of cool. Though jealous of his edge, it didn’t keep me from thinking highly of him, wondering about his life.
I commuted with him to a poetry reading in September 2005. After the reading, we talked past midnight. I asked, “Don’t you want to hold me?” Smith reluctantly agreed, knowing this would complicate things.
We did a full body press. It felt good, right, for both of us. We started hugging, kissing, touching. It’d been at least fifteen years since Smith’d touched a woman. He said, “You can sleep over if you are too stoned to go home.”
I said, “Only if we don’t have sex. I’m involved with several other men.”
So we went to bed in our clothes. I said, “It’s too hot.” I took off my pants, my top and my brassiere.
Smith said, “Oh, no, Lady. Panties go too.”
And that was that. I dumped the other men. Two weeks later, Smith gave me the keys. He said, “It’s not fair for you to wait for me to answer the door.”
And two weeks after that, I moved in.
Smith’s skills as a mainframe programmer were becoming obsolete, and he hated the work. He retired in December 2005. He planned to “fake it” until March 2007, living off his savings until he was eligible for early social security. He convinced me to drop out of the office world, “retire” with him, become his artistic collaborator.
A week after I moved in, we decided to move to Europe. Smith proposed October 16.
Right before retirement, he casually mentioned that he had nodules on his larynx. I freaked out, had him get a biopsy. He was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx. No health insurance.
There were two months of radiation treatments in January and February. At the same time, I was cleaning Smith’s condo and painting and repairing the walls and floor, which were damaged from twenty years of his rough art practices. We’d decided to sell the condo in order to travel, but now we had to sell it because now most of his savings were gone from medical expenses. (I’ve since read that people without insurance pay on average 3 times more than what the treatment costs insurers. This makes me severely angry.)
We were going to get married in January, but couldn’t because I couldn’t dispose of my previous husband. So we married March 18.
During this period we had three art shows, the release of the final issue of ArtCrimes, and bunches of readings… and we created art and wrote about a quarter of his memoir.
I’d never been so happy and sad at the same time. Sad because of the painfulness of dealing with Smith’s illness, and happy because I’d finally found the partner I dreamed of, someone who was a companion, someone with whom I could do art and writing and conversation.
We closed the sale of the condo in June 2006. We had to wait ’til July to see if the radiation treatments worked, getting another biopsy. Regardless, Smith decided we were going to go to Europe whether or not he was cured. As soon as we had the money, we bought our flight tickets to London. In the back of our minds, we weren’t sure they were going to let us leave, that it wasn’t permitted for us to live our dreams. We felt we were escaping.
The July biopsy showed him in remission. August, breathless, we left the country.
We’ve lived together 24/7 since December 2005. Smith’s voice has healed. He sounds like a wise cowboy.
I’ve never been so happy and so sad. I’m happy because I have my road-tested companion, love of my life, and a manuscript… and pictures I can hold in my palms. My thumbs can travel to all the countries we’ve seen.
But I’m so, so sad as well. Now that I have someone to care about, my heart has a home in the world. I’m compelled to care about the world to make it a safer place for me and my love. All global terror is personal terror for me, inescapable from my quotidian existence: the political terrorism of our imperialist institutions, the WTO, the IMF, the non-sustainable practice of globalization, our genocide of 1 million Iraqis, our de facto genocide of 100,000 Indian farmers, my recent disillusionment with the Democrats, realizing their complicity in perpetrating mass corporate and political crime. What is happening to our home, the world? We’re shitting in our own fish tank.
Oh, I love him and it hurts. White-knuckled, time fast and furious in the waiting room. I read and re-read the same paragraphs. Try to get lost in reading, try not thinking about Steve.He’s in the bowels of the hospital where I cannot be.They’re cutting him, scooping out polyps from his nose and taking a tissue sample from his larynx. (He had cancer removed from his larynx and radiation therapy earlier this year.) I wonder What if they find more – what else could they find? Doctor told us 98% of nasal polyps are not cancerous. Still, we’re having them biopsied.I’ve spent the last month watching Steve smoke. When he exhales, he blows it back out his nostrils. Sometimes it’s beautiful, when the smoke wafts in the golden afternoon sunlight. Other times it’s yellowish, thick choky smoke.
I imagine hot, tar-laden smoke gumming up his larynx, his lungs, coating and burning everything as it bathes his lungs, his brain. A smoke bed for his polyps.
At first I thought, OK, I’ll be an example. I won’t smoke.
And then him getting further away from me, him feeling guilty – not enjoying the time he’s smoking. And me appearing self-righteous. So I smoke when he smokes.
Steve says, it’s OK, nothing to worry about – the doctors cut the cancer off his larynx and then they irradiated him. He says it took 40 years for the cancer to grow – it’ll take another 40 years for it to grow back.
My understanding of this is different. I believe that he’s exposed all his cells to these toxins, and these cells now have more of a tendency to become cancerous. A cell can only absorb so much interference to its weaving before it goes crazy. And I imagine all these little cells along his throat, his sinuses, his lungs – all of which have been stressed, the DNA weaving coming undone.
It’s complicated. I hope, hope, hope that he won’t smoke after this last surgery. I get sad, but it’s his life.
The receptionist calls “Smith Family” to her. She points at a door and says something, I hear the word “left.” I’m confused. She has to bring me to the consultation room, where Steve’s doctor waits.
He has pictures. There’s Steve, lights out. Something down his throat. And before pictures of wet red tissue, with occasional yellowish whitish tissue. These are the polyps. And then another picture -Â uniform chunks of beef fat, chicken fat, on a napkin. These are the polyps, now removed.
And he draws two circles (eyes), two triangles, a jagged line for teeth. And a sideways drawing, boxlike, representing the path of the nose through the head into the brain.
He said the sinuses were packed. Chock full of polyps. Says something about them growing close under the brain, close to the eye.
I’m hoping Steve is one of the majority, the 98% of non-cancerous nasal polyp holders.
I ask the doctor to repeat everything he said about the second picture. He doesn’t. I think he thinks I’m stupid, a kind of young trophy wife. I have the urge to tell him, Hey, I’m special and I’m flawed. I have an electrical engineering degree. I’ve come to this body and face for the first time in my life. I am an old person in a young person’s body. I am done with elitism and exceptionalism, though. Let his impression of me be his own.
Back in Steve’s recovery room, and he’s coming back from the anesthesia. He’s confused, and his voice is a liquidy whisper. I pat him on the head, kiss his cheek. He seems fragile.
The doctor’s packed wadding in his nose and up through his sinuses. Two black strings are attached to the wadding. He’ll pull it out Monday.
Nurse says there’s a checklist of things that have to happen before she’ll let Steve go. He has to urinate, be steady on his feet, eat something without vomiting, and the bleeding has to slow down.
We want to go because we do not have health insurance to pay for this hospital bed.
No problem on the first three checklist items. But the blood keeps coming. He lost a pint during surgery, so he’s on a drip.
I smell blood, blood. It seems to be coming from my nose, but this is because I’m smelling his blood.
And he cannot breathe through his nose – it’s packed with wadding until Monday. The blood saturated the wadding. He can’t sneeze, he can’t blow his nose, he can’t breathe. And he coughs up bloody mucous, and his voice gurgles.
Finally the bleeding slows down enough and they let us go.
Kathy n i for European flow are thinking a few weeks in England to attend the Rainbow Gathering, awhile in Amsterdam, awhile in Spain, then visit Prague on the way to stay a bit in Lithuania. any suggestions welcome.anyone in England have any camping gear to rent?we also have to leave our cat 3PO behind … other cats intimidate him. again, any suggestions welcome.went to hospital 6 this morning – got home 5:30 this afternoon. wanted to keep me there. said no. now for 4 days i have cotton packed nose until doc removes. i don’t believe this whole thing is much fun. don’t recommend it.
brand new drug combo for me – & it’s all legal: vicodin for pain, steroids for swelling, antibiotics for the rest. snorted a lot of speed in the 60s, and cocaine in the 90s… perhaps they contributed to the extreme nose polyp growth – literally filled up my nasal passages – had to scrap them from the underside of my brain pan. fortunately i’ve quit everything axcept coffee and grass, am working on phasing out both ! ?
heavy alcohol use from 1975 thru 1991 tried to kill me. snorting speed from 1968 thru 1997 tried to kill me. freebasing (smoking homemade crack) in the early 1980s tried to kill me. snorting cocaine in the 1990s tried to kill me. smoking marijuana from 1968 thru today seems to be trying to kill me. figure i give all these things up, walk around with a clean pure body, and i’ll get hit by a truck. so it goes. figure meat’s next.