My DNA Results: Stories Behind the Strands

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Early 20th century photo of two Mexican girls. What genetic secrets will their children’s children uncover in the 21st century?

When DNA was first explained to me, I was lead to believe such twisted little ladders were like file cabinets locked away, only accessible by some Ivy League scientist. In some respects this is still true if you are trying to find the “crazy gene” you inherited (note: that’s everyone) or the “gay gene” (note: that’s nobody). But if you are looking for a breakdown in terms of all the ethnic traces of your past in your genes, it is now readily available. Certain companies can ship DNA kits to your home and, depending on how fast you can ship your spit back to them, have the results faster than your spouse could complain about that obscure charge on the credit card. I chose to go with Ancestry.com, paid my $99, and got results via email this weekend. Here are the results:

38% Native American

27% Iberian Peninsula

15% Italy/Greece

5% Great Britain

5% African (Coastal North, Central South)

3% Finland/Northwest Russia

3% East Asia (Coastal)

3%  Middle Eastern (Non-Caucuses)

1% Eastern European Jewish

<1% Europe East

It’s VERY important to keep in mind that these are ESTIMATES and that fluctuations in data could be likely, but for the most part, they make sense to me. The evidence is in my face:

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Ancestry.com does breakdown SOME specific regions within ethnicities. For example, for Jewish heritage, it specifies the general region of my specific Hebraic bloodline (European Eastern: Poland, Belarus, Latvia). Or even for African heritage, it can specify countries: Cameroon, Mali, etc. (which I am not from but they are wonderful specifics for someone searching for more details of their Afro-roots).

Unfortunately, the saddest part I find is how they lump all Native Americans into two categories: either North American or South American. No further specifics (tribes, territories, countries) are able to be traced or specified. I don’t know if its due to lack of research in this specific field of DNA research. Or that my particular lab does not have access to that information. Or if this data is still trying to be assembled. Or maybe it’s that we’ve been so cross pollinated (aka FUCKED OVER) that researchers have quite a task to peel back this ancient onion. Who knows. I have pretty descent clues through knowing my grandparents that its most likely I come from the Southwest (Apache, Pueblos) and Northern Central Mexican tribes (Yaqui, Chichimecas etc.). Native is on both sides of my family. It’s the part of me I most wish I could have specified..but couldn’t. STUPID Western world screws us over again. Maybe I need to do more work to find these answers.

The 27% of Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal) would definitely include heritage on my mother’s side (Spanish) and Father (Spanish/ Basque).

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A photo of my mother as a teen. Spanish eyes and a Native heart.

My 15% Italy/Greece origin is a mystery to me. Most likely coming from my biological father’s side, but since he passed away in a car accident when I was 3 (both his parents also have passed on), its difficult to confirm.

The 5% African does not surprise me since I believe we are all part Nubian.  It’s nice to have some Sistah to claim.

Finland must have been a side “accident” that one of my merchant Spanish ancestors fell into at some point on their drunken voyage.

Great Britain is so close to Spain, even its fleas jump the channel to get some Iberian sunshine.

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My biological father at age 12. Is he the source of my 15% Greco/Etruscan bloodline?

The 1% Jewish is disappointing. A few months earlier, my adoptive father got his DNA results back. How I wish I could have beat his 3% Jewish stock! But I did manage to out-Native him. His Native American heritage; 0 % . Sorry dad, Cherokee was only a myth.

Some ethnicities I am definitely NOT are Irish (shocking considering how I used to drink), Polynesian (not shocking considering I hate tropical environments), and Central Asian/ India, Bangladesh (disappointing, because I love their spirituality).

All in all, I am happy with my results. I look to encourage others to do their own. And definitely am waiting for the day they can send me a test kit to track and rate my “sexy gene”. Maybe that’s not as far off as we think.

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My maternal Grandfather Jose Gutierrez Acosta on his beloved farm (Early 80’s). Much Native blood runs in this fertile soil.

Here is a poem I wrote dedicated to my maternal Grandfather Jose Gutierrez-Acosta, a man who knew how to really spread the seeds of love.

Abuelito

             to my grandfather Don Jose Gutierrez Acosta

 

He is buried in an unmarked grave;

A patch of earth he would never claim his own.
Breeder of fourteen children.

Tender of a thousand harvests

of corn,

of onions,

of garlic,

of tomatoes,

and potatoes.

A multitude of bellies fed;

And after one lifetime,

forever sleeping as a seed,

never dead.

FREE EBOOKS! ****FREE EBOOKS! ***YES!!

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To celebrate the release of my book of satirical writings “Throwing Grapes at Bravados” in EBook form and my new chapbook of poetry “The Dark Chamber“, all six of my EBooks are up for FREE (no cost) for a limited time (Sunday, May 25- Thursday, May 28) on Amazon.

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Just click on the following link to go to my Amazon Author’s Page for a listing and link to all EBooks:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CLD9ZA0

To earn some great karma, please leave a review of my book on Amazon if you wish or email me your thoughts/ comments/ etc. at phonyphonyfun@gmail.com.

SOME NOTES BEHIND THE WRITING OF EACH NEW BOOK:

Throwing Grapes at Bravados:  Originally published in hardcopy form in 2005 (now available in EBook), it features limericks, light humorous poetry, satirical prose, and other odd verse. The title was inspired by old Loony Tunes cartoons. Many episodes involved characters acting out in ridiculous ways onstage to amuse a seated audience below. Food would be thrown at the entertainer on stage in protest for their poor performance. I thought…What a wonderful way to get a free meal!  Many of the pieces in this book came about post-reading John Lennon’s “A Spaniard in the Works”. In “Tailbone Art Surgery”, I write a letter to a plastic surgeon requesting that I be given tailbone enhancement.  In “A- Maizing Girl”, someone forced to wear a dress made out of corn finds an ingenious solution to her embarrassing dilemma. In “Tips for a Happy Marriage”, 40 suggestions are listed to include “writing love notes to one another on unpaid bills”.

The Black Chamber:  My newest chapbook featuring poetry that hacks into the dark side of the digital age, Big Brother, the industrial military complex, mass media, and “the Age of Intrusion” (as I call these times).  The title comes from the nickname given to the Cipher Bureau (the United States’ first cryptanalytic organization), a precursor to the National Security Agency. “PRISM” was the first poem written in this series. I “trip through the wires” that leave a cyber fingerprint in the modern world. In “The Invisible Hand”, I touch upon the last moments of someone beheaded by a terrorist organization. In “Conspiracy”, the question of divine intervention or sheer chance is examined, decoded and re-encoded.

Alcohol: Fun with a Loaded Gun

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What most of my 20’s looked like. Photo courtesy drunken me.

You’d think that a porky tumor in my liver may have detoured me from partaking in a few pints of beer. Or that chemotherapy biweekly for an entire year…yes, an ENTIRE YEAR filled with endless rounds of throwing up might have given me my fill of poisoning my body…that even smelling alcohol would bring about nausea. And you are right. I went a whole year without going for that fuzzy buzz. But then, like a dirty-rotten friend, it called again. To “celebrate” my making it through one whole year of chemo, I went out for a “few drinks” (4 pints of beer) to the local bar a few months back. I was alone (nowadays, I prefer it that way), yet was friendly and amicable to other fellow lost souls I met that night. I went there, head freshly shorn (one of a sea of side effects I shrug off) just as some kid that had recently graduated from some hellish boot camp. I’d gotten used to the Mad Max look on myself after my 26th chemo round. For the most part, I had a good time that night, at least, I thought.

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Me in 2005. I was buzzed when they took this picture. Not a good way to convince that cop that pulls you over that you really aren’t a drunk.

The next morning, I woke up cotton-mouthed, eyes dry and heavy… but, this was my usual chemo effects. My husband, who usually ignored my movements and activities surprised me by sternly asking  if I had any recollection of coming home the night before. Of course I did, I answered casually: drove home, unhinged the old bra, then…well, it was kinda foggy in mind after that. I noticed the bruise and rug-burn on my left elbow. No biggie…had ’em many times. Can’t be any worse than bleeding out my ass which is how I found the first cancerous tumor a few years back, I reasoned. But, then I saw my husband’s expression: a mix of frustration, concern, anger, and disappointment. Slowly, I began to recall the mood I hurled around the house the night before. RAGE, UGLY RAGE, the kind that gets high on itself as evil gets high on inflicting pain and sorrow. I thank GOD my 13 yr old son was asleep at the time (one o’clock in the morning) and didn’t see it. I’m 41 years old. At what fucking point will I grow up????

Who would have imagined that this beast would initiate my sobriety. Colon cancer tumor, 2011. Photo courtesy my doctor.

Who would have imagined that this beast would initiate my sobriety? Well, kinda. Colon cancer tumor, 2011. Photo courtesy my doctor.

People may say I’m justified. You’re going through some serious life-altering, soap opera shit right now, I can hear the sappy Freud in me say. Is that an excuse? Blame it on the barking dog, or the stressful job, or the lover who left you. BULL!!!Whatever, but lets go back in time a bit.

In my 20’s, I did the usual drinking and partying every weekend with friends, lovers, strangers, dangers. Whatever. Same old, SAMO (yawn). Wasted time, wasted money….yes my 20’s were pretty much spent wasted. During those college years, I’d do my homework in bars, drink in hand. I’d meet my boyfriends there. I’d do my “therapy” there too, I claimed. Drinking was “fun”. Drunks were “funny”. Dying was a place far away, only heroin addicts and old people went there. At one point, at age 24, I twice (accidently?) overdosed on a combination of prescription drugs (Valium and Zoloft) and alcohol when I was single and living in San Francisco. By the third time, my parents drove up to Frisco to save my sorry ass by taking me back “home” to San Diego. But I didn’t change my ways much there either. Neither of my folks drank, being practicing Christians, so I couldn’t play that trick card that says Well, I picked up the habit watching my alcoholic parents or I inherited the drink gene. WHAT A DAMN CANARD!!!!!!

Me at age ten, seated in center on right near fireplace. Not a picture perfect family, but at least my folks didn't drink or abuse me. So what's my excuse???

Me at age ten, seated in center on right near fireplace. Not a picture perfect family, but at least my folks didn’t drink or abuse me. So what’s my excuse???

In my 20’s and early 30’s, drinking was “cute”. I have family members and friends who still think this way and I know their views won’t change, sad to say. But a bloated belly, a fat liver, a DUI, a habit of hangovers, chronic depression, and fights fueled with alcohol at age 40 and older don’t look very “cute”  or “funny” anymore, do they? And that is only the beginning of what habitual drinking does. What it does to a family, that’s a whole miniseries in itself.

Fast forward to my late 30’s. After being together for ten years,  my husband and I separated. This marital purgatory lasted a long, dragged-out 3 years. I blamed our separation on his alcoholism (how it isolated him from me, how it drove me to drink…blah blah) is what I’d claim. Though this was partly true, it was a muse for an excuse to act out like I did in my 20’s. But when the reality of having stage IV cancer came to me in 2013, I needed to rebuild bridges, NOT burn them. We reconciled and are truly the closest we have ever been. But it was my concern for my spouse that got me off my pride horse. It was nights (starting a few months ago) listening to him practically choking on his vomit or acids from binging the hours before that woke me up to the darkness that comes with alcoholism. I’d shake him or try to push him over on his side to get him to clear his throat just so. He, all the while, still in a sleeping stupor, either unaware or too drunk to awaken.  In the morning, off he went to work, functioning somehow, but definitely not happy. That was me just a year before, hung over at my job. No, my spouse has never physically nor verbally abused me nor our son in his drinking spells. No DUI’s, no lost jobs, no police at our home. But watching his body change (belly), his health affected due to that evening drink to relax his nerves makes me sad, very sad, and scared as hell for him. It was the first time I actually sought AL-ANON. I knew I had to face the realities of my own struggles.

How many times did Amy Winehouse choke on her vomit during sleep before getting help? Death won't let you know.

How many times did Amy Winehouse choke on her vomit during sleep before getting help? Death won’t let us know.

I have gently informed my husband of these moments when his drinking has altered his sleep. And no, that hasn’t changed his habits, which I wasn’t surprised by. I know a person has to want to change themselves for it to happen. I leave him be. But the incidents prompted me to see how EASY our minds are twisted into thinking that we need a life with alcohol to “have fun” or “be fun” or sickly, to “function normally”. Can we remember back to when we were kids, when we could just be happy at will? When we could cry or get angry or be silly naturally? Why do we need fucking booze to be our “self”…our REAL SELF??? So I see now how a life liberated from depending on some “thing” (poison, literally) outside myself in order to feel is just that: LIBERATING. It is not a criticism nor a judgment… it is a fact. Imagine, letting yourself be. Drinking is a coward’s tool to face life and its spectrum of emotions. A pussy’s poison!! I’m done with being a coward.  I prefer to stare down reality, no matter how evil, painful, or cold…AND believe me, I have seen a lot. And I hear all the excuses that come with drinking and drugging (cultural tradition, family sanctioned, functioning alcoholism). I lived them too. Lies from non-thinking minds. The habit is like playing around with a gun and saying “I’m just having a little fun”. At some point, you’ll fire that loaded weapon without control, and god only knows where the bullets will fly. Nowadays, metaphorically, I have laid down my guns. I prefer the sober asshole in me to the excuse-filled crying, depressive drunk of my old self. If you need help, get it, its out there, even in cyberspace. Step into a life of liberation, of clear thinking, of BRAVERY, of real happiness.

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The following is a poem dedicated to my sister Pam, one of the bravest people I know, who has been living drug-free now for over a decade. I’m proud to be your sis. And, no, drinking does NOT make art…people do.

Alcohol

Good old Al‒

The fun gun at the party holding up the empty barrel to the big pussy rejecting the poison‒

His acidic eyes forever burning brightness into black.

Yeah, I’ll drink to that.

Not a holy black or

Halloween out of the trick-bag black,

more so, the absence of anything.

If only he knew.

He’s the original crash test dummy.

Calendars mark him by the day.

His truths read fiction.

People are his piñatas.

He is wanted in every state.

He’s the most interesting scam in the world.

No one expected to find him bleeding-out the laughter

to carry tradition into a sad-ass-sorry song.

Yeah right…

You know it;

The oceans of lies that flow through father to daughters

and mothers to sons.

You know the tune,

the one with bridges to cross

or jump from.

You know it.

Your other-half sang it with medicinal moderation

between loveless kisses and fake lullabies.

Oh, the muse for excuse‒

Don’t mind me, I won’t mind you,

the coward’s fuel.

It’s the season for creating

artists and avalanches and arsenals of thought,

here fermenting,

drowning proof.

Cheap, cheap,

goes the songbird.

Hear here my dear;

Do you ache to numb your ear?

That fist-shot of furry

you welcome by the dime.

Diluting the hour,

same ol’ cliché,

bitching louder,

bitching louder,

killing time.

You’ve struck the pain;

Give yourself a hand.

It comes lose for self-abuse.

Relax now,

it’s just a joke.

I saw it brewing with your name,

knocking down the judgmental ghost.

Approving, disapproving‒

both imposters just the same,

running home‒

striking out‒

crying foul‒

we play the sobering game.

And the risk is sweet,

yes,

risk is dumb-luck’s falling star,

the child’s magic marker

for an angel or a devil’s scar.

A moment to act out;

A reason to be careful with who you are.

But, can you recall that floating carpet

where feelings weren’t yet fenced-in

and happiness was a piss-warm cup you drank from?

A talisman for tasting your soul,

you suckle the danger.

Bitterly tender,

heart still heaving,

you raise the weapon and swallow it whole.

Paint Me a Poem: The Preoccupations of an Ex-President

Painting by George W. Bush. Hair by hell!

Painting by George W. Bush. Hair by hell!

What do presidents do when they get out of office? What else but paint! As I was thumbing through the pages of a recent article in Architectural Digest, I was amused to see that our ex-President George W. Bush was working the old muse.

Bush family room outside Waco, Texas. This is where all the magic happens folks.

Bush family room outside Waco, Texas. This is where all the magic happens folks.

What was more surprising is that he jump started my muse! Since I have been writing my next collection of poetry entitled “The Black Chamber”, what would be more fitting for the book than the lonely hours of an ex-President?

The master at his easel.

The master at his easel.

 

Tony Blair

Tony Blair

 

A few of GWB's paintings exhibited.

A few of GWB’s paintings exhibited.

 

 

Mr. Bush Paints

 

Just outside of Waco,

where the sun drips gold,

you’ll find still lives,

a kangaroo’s opera of “ordinary”.

Trees,

pets,

and portraits of world leaders…

the typical genres (not all half bad)

done on an easel

in the enclosed breezeway of a family room.

A fire engine of a phone at his elbow,

a Castro’s call away from plots and political proclamations

come these plein air imaginings.

Sneeze,

and the sky bends.

Laugh,

and the ocean solidifies.

Cry,

and the whole earth turns purple.

Think,

and attack the open end of a blank canvas.

The crescent moon of his mind envisioning

“a new world order”

out of vermillion hues and ultramarine blues.

The dead horsehairs of his paintbrush

shaping a house to fit into a landscape.

Layering his universes;

Contriving and controlling

as a cowhand of craft.

Minimizing fortune

in the natural frontier,

he executes with his own prosimian hand.

Maximizing his truancy of time,

expanding peace

as though it were some new design…

he stylizes simplicity as a hiccup

for tomorrow’s colorful crows.

Next month,

his pieces will be exhibited on walls

where seminary students go wandering,

contemplating all of God’s wonders,

waxing over the artistic strokes as mime.

Fear and Loathing in Chemoland

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Chemotherapy…the art of beating up your cells ’til they sting you back like tiny jellyfish. Since my diagnosis with stage four metastatic colon cancer in November 2013, I have been the lucky recipient of this “therapy”. Nine rounds down with three more to go.

 

I got so sick of cleaning up the shower drain from all the hair I lost, I took the scissors and cut my long hair off. But why the heck didn't this chemo make hair fall out from other hidden places. UGH!

I got so sick of cleaning up the shower drain from all the hair I lost, I took the scissors and cut my long hair off. But why the heck didn’t this chemo make hair fall out from other hidden places. UGH!

Chemotherapy is everything and nothing like they tell you it is. The typical stuff happens: hair loss, bleeding gums, upset stomach, constipation, fatigue that could bring Speedy Gonzales to his knees. But then you start thinking you are a walking lab rat once your asshole is bleeding, the joints of your fingers “lock up”,  head is chemo-lagged, your hands and feet swell and “darken”, you don’t get a menstrual period anymore, brown spots ravage your face, and anything you eat or taste that is too hot, cold, acidic, spicy, or sweet around the week of treatment goes down your throat feeling as though you are a first time sword swallower. Blah blah blah, yeh, basically it sucks, for a good cause, that is. Sometimes you need the devil to cast the devil out.

Neulasta, what I shoot myself in the stomach biweekly to keep my immune system intact. Good practice of future heroin connoisseurs.

Neulasta, what I shoot myself in the stomache biweekly to keep my immune system intact. Good practice of future heroin connoisseurs.

So it’s no surprise that chemo isn’t exactly a trip to Paris.  What does boggle my mind is why infusion treatment centers (at least the one’s I have known) don’t have a more pleasurable environment while a patient is getting treated. The average treatment requires a patient to sit in a chair and wait for a cocktail of chemo to drip at a snail’s pace into your veins for hours at a time. I’ve had more entertaining moments at the DMV watching weirdos come and go in the waiting area. You could very well be on the last leg of your life, yet medical centers are hell-bent on saving some extra dollars to make chemo the misery that it is. The following are some suggestions on how to improve chemo treatment centers.

A typical boring chemo infusion center. Note the bellydancers...NOT.

A typical boring chemo infusion center. Note the bellydancers…NOT.

1) Floating Masseuse. Why not have your feet or hands massaged with cocoa butter or spring lavender oil? Better yet, why not make them floating comic masseuses? Nothing like a good laugh while someone is slipping through your toe cheese.

2) Chairs with personal television screens. This is a no brainer! Have Netflix already logged onto them. Have a DVD player and a good set of earphones. Hell, have a dancing monkey perform the Nutcracker in a cut out cardboard box for all I care. Give me something to look at other than the hairy mole on some nurse’s face.

3) Beds. Ok now, we have cancer. I think its ok to let us lay on an actual bed since treatment usually lasts hours and the medication they give us for anti-nausea makes chemo patients sleepy. If they gave my dad a bed for a minor case of a spider bite, I doubt its overkill (no pun intended) to give someone with stage four cancer a descent cot for a couple of hours. Flannel sheets please!

DON"T WAIT 'TIL AGE 50! Get a screening done anytime you see blood in your poop! Might save your life.

DON”T WAIT ‘TIL AGE 50! Get a screening done anytime you see blood in your poop! Might save your life.

4) Classes for Personal Enrichment. Not everyone will want this, but some people would think it a cool idea to spark new life into a patient. Have certain rooms of the center to gather for classes in jewelry making, beer brewing, or becoming a phony-baloney psychic.  At this point, I would even take a class on installing solar panels on a lawn mower if I can avoid all the times I  looked over at the clock.

5) A Minion. That’s right…someone to do a run for me down to Subway since treatment centers don’t feed you.  Someone to lug all my crap to my treatment chair: Books to read, snacks, writing paper and pen, laptop, thigh master, yoga pillow, lucky coonskin hat, bowling jacket since none of these things are available to you at the hospital. Someone to fill out all the insurance, hospital, and workers disability forms when starting that dive into red tape. Someone to hug. Someone to smack around. Someone who will get out of your face and not take it personally if you tell them to.  Some people would assign this role to a family member or trusted friend. I prefer to select someone anonymous to not take my shifting moods seriously…plus I prefer someone better looking!

Resourceful and quick on his feet. My minion of choice is Christiano Ronaldo.

Resourceful and quick on his feet, my minion of choice is Christiano Ronaldo.

So there you have it. Five suggestions to take chemotherapy infusions to another level of healing. Five things that will take me away from writing any more horrible limericks (as the one below), the only entertainment I seem to have at chemo treatments today.

There once was a patient quite sick

who’s treatment was that of a trick;

He paid through the nose,

before the scheme was exposed

that they had amputated his dick.

 

Cancer and Rocking in a Free World

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Damn it, I might as well have smoked those cigarettes I was told would cause cancer. I can still hear my mom exclaiming in Español, “Look at that dummy sucking on the devil’s tail!” All my teenage mind could think about was how much I wish it was me. Now I know I missed out on the nicotine highs and still ended up with the big “C” spread throughout my lungs. Welcome to stage 4 of metastatic colon cancer.

After having a camera shoved down my throat a week ago today and a chunks of my lungs fished and carved out of yours truly, I finally got the results of the biopsy. More on that later. The procedure itself involved GPS tracking through my chest, a team of three young doctors, a giant Willie Wonka digital clock that only told you military time, four humorous assistants, and a clueless 39 yr old woman with a major wedgie (that would be me). Who would have thought that annoying Garmin lady that talks back to you in the car would be guiding doctors through my lungs? I can hear her now: “At heart, turn left.” I won’t doubt doctors ended up in the South Pole due to bad directions like all the rest of the GPS systems tend to do, or is that just my luck? I had been wondering why my hemorrhoids seemed to have flared up that evening. Maybe a wrong turn down the old pike (wink)?

Bronchoscopy...No salmon fishing here!

Bronchoscopy…No salmon fishing here!

So the staff themselves at Balboa Hospital (officially called Naval Medical Center San Diego) knew their stuff. One girl put the monitoring stickies all over my chest (thanks Jen). Another guy got my I.V. going (I still have the sink hole). One other was there for observation or possibly freak entertainment. And my nurse, Michelle (Dr. Feel-good), was the one to administer the good stuff…sedation (aka the Michael Jackson Sleeping Potion). So before I turned into a beaner version of sleeping beauty, minus the beauty, all three of my male doctors walked up to where I was laying. Dr. Powers was the Josh Hartnett look a like (you know, the actor from the film “Pearl Harbor” who is in the love triangle opposite Ben Affleck). Then there was Dr. Escobar, the Latino GPS navigator (who looked more like a musician in a Cuban rumba band). And finally the tan angel that floated down from some Scandinavian star, Dr. Tripp, who tended to be the spokesman. I could tell, he was going to be the captain and I was going to be his vessel. OH how I wished!

Dr. Tripp with tan: So, Ms. Taylor, can you describe the procedure we will be performing on you today in your own words?

Patient with wedgie: UH, you’re gona stick a camera down my lungs to carve out some junk with a spoon then send it to the lab to test, right?

Dr. Tripp with smile and tan: That’s, pretty good. The procedure we will be performing is a Bronchoscopy …blah blah blah

At that point, as I listened to the doctor explain in medical terms what they were going to do to me, I began to think, “How come I can’t have a man like this in my life damn it?” and “How did this blonde guy get such a killer tan in late OCTOBER?” If I was to croak that day on the operating table, at least I would be happy to have this doctor with the beautiful complexion try to CPR my ass back to life.

Dr. Tripp's fishing rod.

Dr. Tripp’s fishing rod.

Dr. Tripp with killer tan: Any questions for us before we start?

Patient with killer wedgie: Yeh, can I drink after I get home this evening?

Dr. Tripp with tan: It is recommended that no alcoholic beverages shall be consumed up to 24 hours after the procedure.

Patient with wedgie: So you are saying I can’t drink a beer later tonight even if I know I won’t be driving?

Dr. Tripp (with laughter erupting from background): It is recommended that no alcoholic beverages shall be consumed up to 24 hours after the procedure.

And after that, I was pretty much out like chalk erased off a blackboard. OH how I miss you Dr. Tripp and your stories to staff about your fishing trips to Baja California to work on that perfect skin tone. Please pardon all the snoring I did during the procedure. Maybe we shall cross paths on another operating table in the distant ill future. That or some outside cantina on a beach down in Los Cabos.

Could Josh Hartnett now be hiding out from Hollywood as Dr. Powers?

Could Josh Hartnett now be hiding out from Hollywood as Dr. Powers?

Fast forward a week later, I meet with Dr. Powers (aka, “Pearl Harbor” movie star) for the scoop on what they found from several cell samples they took off my bronchial tubes. Its official, I hit the cancer lottery…but thankfully not the Super Lotto. Stage 4, spread throughout my lungs and in a mass taking up about a fourth of my liver. Metastatic colon ca…ca..cancer. They are devil cells left behind from the tumor that was removed from my colon in 2011. No cure (according to Mr. Movie Star). Chemo next which will just keep the cancer cells isolated to lungs and liver and hopefully not spread. When I heard the words “no cure”, I turned to my best friend who was looking at me as though I was a ghost and said, “What! So its like AIDS? I will have it for life?” I couldn’t process it into my mind. The words tried to soak into my head like a pigeon turd that had just been dropped from above. My friend who was kind enough to drive me to the appointment sat speechless. She was the one that would usually crack jokes about everything. This time, I had to be the one to crack them, “Well, at least I can still have sex”.

So, as I wait for the oncologist to call me this week to schedule my chemo orientation, I sit and think about all the things I love the most: my son, my family, my wacky ideas, friends, stupid Chappelle Show episodes, kissing, pickles, Jay-Z songs, beautiful men, Yosemite, my son’s face, champagne, the sky, jogging, art museums, Thai food, my mom, Andrea Boccelli, sex with beautiful men, poetry, my new nephew, French stuff, dancing, a Neiman Marcus catalog, laughing…there is no end to the list. But, NEVER EVER do I think of OBAMACARE!

Me in 2002 flying over Los Cabos. Maybe I will see Dr. Tripp!

Me in 2002 flying over Los Cabos. Maybe I will see Dr. Tripp!

It’s just a reminder, no matter what state your health is in, no matter how hard your life gets rocked, one needs to do what Neil Young  did in the 80’s when record companies tried to crap over all his genius : KEEP ON ROCKING IN A FREE WORLD!

The bad ass himself, Neil Young.

The bad ass himself, Neil Young.

Another bad ass rocking his way back to health. DON'T FORGET OUR TROOPS!

Another bad ass rocking his way back to health.
DON’T FORGET OUR TROOPS!

OH, and yes, I finally picked that wedgie.

To Be or Not to Be Cancer (that is the question)

My-bucket-list[1]

One full week, that’s how long I have been waiting to hear back from the doctors to determine whether or not cancer has returned to my thirty-nine year old body. Who needs shows like “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” when you got Ms. Amanda aka “lets drink a beer to my tumor” here.  I am proof that bad weeds never die. In 2011, when I had surgery to remove a tumor with stage two colon cancer, I changed my perception of what I was facing. “OH, it’s just a dirty pimple inside me that needs to be cleared out. I will be fine and be back  to eating pink glazed donuts before you know it,” was what I told everyone. And I was right, for a while.

Yours truly in 2010, in healthier and happier times.

Yours truly in 2010, in healthier and happier times.

So in the same week I got laid off my job (see previous post, OH LUCKY ME), I decided to go in to see a doctor about the pressure in my chest I had been feeling off and on for three weeks. I didn’t like taking time off work to go to hospitals since I hated doctors and disliked a cut in my pay, so I figured I would do a quick run while I was now officially “UNEMPLOYED” with plenty of free time on my hands. (That and I wanted a good excuse not to job hunt.) An X-ray, one CT scan, a visit to the pulmonary specialist, and  a PET CT Scan later, doctors still wouldn’t and couldn’t (and shouldn’t?) tell me what this pressure is in my chest. In the meanwhile, I still feel like I have  Mini Me sitting on my ribcage, making it uncomfortable to sleep at night.

Mini Me on my chest.

Mini Me on my chest.

So what are the possibilities of what this Mini Me may be according to the doctors?  Since I hadn’t had a cold since February, a virus was pretty much out of the question. So what do they say it could be: A very atypical fungal infection…tuberculosis…or …. ca…ca…ca…cancer. I am very much in favor of the idea of a Portobello Mushroom making a home out of my lungs…but doctors seem to favor the ca..ca…cancer.

In the meanwhile, I have a bunch of thoughts rushing through my head:

1) Damn it, I got to get laid.

2) If I lose my hair with chemo, I can always get a purple Katy Perry wig.

3) I got to get laid.

4) Fuck my old job…But, who would have thought they laying me off may be saving my life. I should send them a THANK YOU card.

5) I need to take out some more life insurance so my son can buy a bad ass car when I am dead and gone.

6) Maybe this is all a big ball of crap and I just need to smuggle some antibiotics from Mexico like I did a few years back for that ear infection.

7) I need to get laid.

8) Damn it, I need to finish my memoir.

9) I don’t want to die in El Cajon!!!! Maybe I have enough $ for a one way ticket to Paris (France, not Texas y’all) when I am close to croaking.

10) I better get off my ass and find someone to get laid with.

So  as I approach Monday, tomorrow, waiting for doctors to tell me when I am scheduled to go in for a biopsy (they carving out a piece of my lungs to determine if I, in fact, do have a mushroom or cancer..or MiniMe inside my chest), I sit and wait and wonder if maybe this is just the devil or an angel moving into my realm. I can only wait and wonder why now, why this, why me, why anything. WHY ???

Jesus asks...HEY MAN, WHY ME?

Jesus asks…HEY MAN, WHY ME?

So when Jesus cried out to God in the garden of Gethsemane the day before he was nailed to driftwood, asking God why me? why now?…I guess I will just accept what the Source said in response to people who question events: “Hey, buddy, WHY NOT???”

Maybe I should start Googling that purple Katy Perry wig.

Katy Perry Wig available on Amazon.com for $29.99

Katy Perry Wig available on Amazon.com for $29.99

The following is a poem that expresses how much I love life and refuse to give it up:

A Practical Prayer

I want to be the maker of beautiful things;

The preacher of beautiful words;

The lover of the loveliest loving.

I want to saturate myself in the soil,

heart-bloody-bosom to be one with Earth;

I want to breathe in a cloud

and exhale thirst;

I want to mold a mountain in my mind

and inhale the highest high;

scale the invisible stairs in the sky.

I want to swim in my river of emotions,

pushing over a cliff, falling and feeling

the deepest parts of my soul.

I want to pray to stay with eyes ocean-wide

seeing all things anew, aglow,

trusting and thrusting into each action,

dancing with the leaves,

to lie open to the sun,

friend to all with childlike ease.

I want memories to flow like cotton candy,

sweet and light and Easter bright.

I want to hope here with myself,

to taste my possibilities alive,

any moment, the discovery of now,

the anticipation of this and that,

of him or her,

of anywhere in this dream we all dream

of the seen and unseen,

of the fountain of continuation,

of the song sung between you and me.

Everyone Has An Asshole

ALL HAIL TIMMERMAN's, my personal liquid morphine.

This week, I got laid all right…but not the right kind. Getting laid off from my employer yesterday along with others, I did the most logical thing: I headed straight for the Yard House Grill to get my Timmerman’s strawberry beer and looked … Continue reading

A Self-Portrait to Celebrate

Japanese Brush Self Portrait

Don’t you love it when someone does your portrait and it ends up NOT looking like you? That you actually turn out rendered better than your true appearance? Such is what happened to me last week at a local artist’s fair.
As usual, I declined to sit for the artist (Judith) at hand who kept pleading with me to be her model for a “free session”. “Free”, I thought? If this session is going to be free, than you know yours truly will end up getting a self-portrait branded with a big honker and crooked teeth. God forbid me volunteer as a nude, then I’d really have to pray to the Photoshop gods to rework me. So I decided to sit for her since she wasn’t one of those cartoony “artists”, convincing myself that if I didn’t like the portrait, I could always give it to my son to use as a target for BB-gun practice. But when the artist, who was working in a Japanese waterbrush technique, finished her 1 minute and 43 second “free session”, I was as relieved as a giddy contestant seeing their handsome match on the Dating Game. My big honker was barely suggested, though it could be used for a fly’s landing strip. And my crooked teeth were hidden behind a geisha’s mouth. I was so happy, I decided to drive on down to 7-Eleven and buy a Slurpee to celebrate myself.

The following is a poem dedicated to Walt Whitman, who reminded us not to forget the joy that comes from liking ourselves.


To Walt

I celebrate myself anonymous.
I celebrate myself and toast
to the new,
to the old,
to those men of age
and those young women born of spark
and halls of mirrors,
lovers of themselves.
I celebrate
to the past and the future
and join their hands
here as one.
I praise to rise.
I rise to praise.
I become and say
what shall remain:
All as a single voice,
heart of thought;
soul of thinking,
I am.
I shall remain.
Celebrate my thoughts
as yours.
Celebrate the blood
burning through an indifferent hour.
I penetrate the unknown
and mark myself as lightning
illuminated.
I celebrate.
I celebrate all
every day,
a new way
within.

Hidden Forces and Divorces

thCA2S2UM6

I’ve been watching a lot of couples lately… some married, others just “in a relationship”. I wonder why it is that one person gets pulled into another person’s orbit versus all the other people out there in the world. I doubt most of them ever realized the forces drawing them into realms beyond their conscious control. Why don’t I care to date Joe the Plumber or Jenny from down the block, but someone else would? What is that extra something? But more importantly, what extinguishes that spark? Where did the interest in a relationship begin to waver? Was “it” ever there?

Dropping my son off at his father’s house (a man I was “with” for over 11 yrs, then suddenly not), I had an odd sensation. I could only describe it in poetric form by writing “The Amicable Divorce”.

It is a scientific fact that certain mysterious forces attract or repel one another. Seeing that I was an awful physics student in high school, its no wonder that I didn’t study up enough to know why this happens, when to see it coming, and what to do about it. I guess these are the lessons we live to learn about the hard way.

The Amicable Divorce

You can (not) say
there is
little warmth

in this room
where we stand

two candles
set apart;

two waning tongues of fire.

No more to argue,
no more to blame,
though, yes,
we did once touch.
And I admit,
it was you that lit my world as naturally as a disaster,
fusing me into figure,
sharing in your breath of life.

Here we stand.

Two heated mutes,
as ignorant as the mind and the heart are to one another.
Where does the spirit dwell?

Here we stand.

Two volcanoes
hibernating for a reason in hell,
flanking what sits between us,
that wildfire we set ablaze,
brought only together to
control-itandconsole-it,
though it pushes
and pulls
with a will of its own.
At moments,
we douse it with the tears of our shame.

Here we stand.

Angelic as dead-dog weight,
passive as peace,
hate hollowed out of us and
replaced with the halos
we each carry,
so real
their black holes can be measured
light years away.

6/13/13 @ Renette Place