Getting Through

It’s quite a different thing to look at your day (or your life) as something to get through, like a tedious play or movie that’s got you shifting in your seat and looking toward the exits.

Because really, if you’re just waiting for it to be over, then why’d you buy the ticket?  Aren’t we here to enjoy the show?  Isn’t that why we drove all the way over here and got a sitter?  To enjoy the show?

The answer, of course, is yes.  But the answer is also that the show has to be good; or at least good enough to keep us from fidgeting and looking at our watch and wondering when it’s going to be over so we can get back in the car and go…

where?

So here we are, at the show, and we’re hoping that it’s good.  And sometimes, it is good.  Sometimes, for brief flashes, it’s really good.  Transcendent.  We feel like we’re being lifted out of our seat, weightless, it’s so goddamn beautiful what we’re watching unfold before us– right there in front of us, in ways we can touch and smell and hear and feel!   It makes us float!

And hopefully– ideally– we keep on floating through those inevitable parts that aren’t so great; that are boring, or painful; ill-conceived and unbearable; sometimes so unpleasant that it sinks us back down in our seat and makes our ass hurt, and has us glancing again toward the exit.

I never like this feeling, of looking at my day (or my life) as something to get through.  Nonetheless, I find myself all to often inhabited by that itchy perspective in this, my (Cancerful) Life.

I guess I just want to enjoy the show.

I mean I’m here; I bought the ticket and got the sitter and drove all the way down here and everybody’s been saying it’s so great (well, some people have been saying it’s great– other people had mixed reviews) but this part is kind of boring and why am I having such a hard time paying attention, I normally love this kind of show… what time is it, do you think it’s going to be pain in the ass getting out of here?  Oh god I hope there’s no traffic, did I forget to–

SHHH!  Look!  Look at that– I think there’s another good part coming up!  Shhh, I don’t want to miss it…

theatre_seats

Flickering Lights

It is not up to us to worry where the sky goes,
Unless that’s the place
We want to go, too.

It should not be our burden,
To wonder why the moon glows.
Unless in that wondering,
We find something that makes us glow too.

We are but flickering lights,
Bundles of energy released by the sun,
so many years ago,
so far away from today.
brought together here, but only for an instant.
The longest one we’ll ever know.

And as if by some magic,
Somehow sewn together,
into things that can feel, and lose,
and love.

Little packages of energy,
bound together with such force,
and with such withering complexity,
that it hurts sometimes.
But sometimes, it glows.

 

A match is lit,
and our life is struck.
And the way that flame twists
is all we’ve got.

But the smoke that is generated,
whisping away into air…
that will speak of us.

And the gleam that our light leaves
in the other’s eye, as they pass by,
so do we go with them.

And if, by chance, our flame might ignite another,
Then we alight,
together.

Not nothing at all,
Never.

But everything, always,
Forever.

Sometimes, the tiniest thing imaginable,
So grand it could make you cry.

But why?

Just smile.

Just try.

There.

That’s why.

Good bye.lake_mohawk

Hello again!

 

Good night.

 

Gasps of air

I realize now that the sadness has chased me all of my life.  It was always there, if not completely felt: something to avoid, something fleeting but looming.  A thing with a foul flavor that silently pushed me toward things that tasted better.

Like laughter, and adventure… sight, and song.  Kinship.  Love.  Things that filled me with the warmth of life, and made me less afraid of the cold hands of sadness, which remained invisibly behind, ready to reach out on any day to lay with a chill upon my shoulders, or in the back of my mind.

And so I think perhaps it is my life-long aversion to that feeling– that sad weight of worry, or fear, or pain– that has trained me to keep my head above water; to paddle like hell with my feet and my hands and my  thoughts, as long and as hard as they will possibly allow.

Because even when the cold tide is rising, inevitably, above your chin and your lips and to just under your nose, there are still wisps of breeze blowing by across the surface of the water, and in those gusts  you can still catch the most gorgeous of scents, and hear the most delightful of sounds: laughter,  and melodies.  These fleeting sensations are still yours to be heard, and smelled, and seen and felt, even if you’re gasping for air and the water is rising and you know that despite all efforts your head will inevitably fall below the surface.

But until then, just breathe.  Because you can still swim–even if it is only to save your life–and while you’re desperately treading water, the sparkling magic contained in each gasp for air bubbles with more beauty and meaning than any of the easy breaths you once drew, on bored summer days when you lay on the beach,  lazy with life.

But even then, as you sat breathing easy on that sunny shore, the sadness would suddenly tap you on the back of the head, your eyes would open to its presence, and you’d realize at that moment that you had a choice: to lay there and let the cold shadow of fear fall over you once again, or to get up and move toward something  warmer; something that maybe would make you smile.

And so, perhaps without realizing the power of this motion at the time, you would stand, with some effort, and step toward the water.  To go for a swim.  You would do this, to create a good moment– and with that, perhaps, a good day.  And then, with enough of those strung together… maybe a good lifetime.

Because you always liked swimming.  Swimming made you happy.  And a lot of times, the water was warmer than the shadows that lingered on shore.

So perhaps I have sadness to thank for being happy.  Perhaps it is the struggle that has kept me swimming… and has taught me how to keep my head above water, so that I might still catch those sweet gasps of air.

However it happened, I’m grateful for all of it.  Because man, can it be nice.

And the view of the beach from out here in the water is just as beautiful as the other way around…

This Too Shall Pass (But when?)

I keep telling myself that this too shall pass…

But what will it pass on to?
And when?

Too often with the cancer you wind up trading one pain in the ass for another.  Sometimes you don’t even trade– you’ll often end up with two (or a half-dozen) pains in the ass at once.  How Cancerful is that!  It’s a real pain in the ass, to be honest.

I’m speaking figuratively, of course: the pains, while frequent and widespread (motley and multifarious, if you’ll allow the saurus), are typically  located in areas other than the derriere.  Like the head, for example.  I’ve had a lot of pains in the head.  But there have also been pains in the neck, and the knees, and the gut…  and now that I think about it, the derriere area has seen its own share of Cancerful controversy over the last few years too.  So sometimes the pain in the ass really is a pain in the ass.

Point is, there’s a lot of pains, wherever they may be located.  In the ass, or elsewhere.
For the sake of clarity, let’s just call them “a pain in the me,”  and get back to what we were originally talking about before this long pain-in-the-ass digression.  OK?  OK. Here we go:

I keep telling myself that this too shall pass…

But what will it pass on to?
And when?

Too often with the cancer you wind up trading one pain-in-the-me for another.  Sometimes you don’t even trade: you’ll often end up with two (or a half-dozen) pains-in the-me at once.  What a pain in the me!

To confuse matters, these Cancerful pains aren’t always painful  in the physical sense.  They can be intellectual or emotional pains.  Or, they can be physical things in your body that don’t actually hurt, but are so annoying and inconvenient that they still totally qualify as a HUGE pain-in-the-me.  (Which because I like acronyms and in the interest of brevity I will now call PITMs.)

This morning, i’ve got a few PITMs going.  One of them is in my gut, and this despite the fact (and not because of the fact) that I just had cake for breakfast.
Hey don’t judge–the last time I had cake for breakfast was after I had brain surgery (I earned it!)   And that was like a month ago, anyway.  This time, it was just because I happened to bake a cake last night before I went to bed, and what the hell else was I going to do when I got up this morning and saw a chocolate cake sitting there– eat cereal?  What am I, a fucking moron?

Anyway, my tummy hurts.  This has been going on for awhile.  And I swear it’s not because of my dietary habits; it’s a side-effect of a side-effect of all the cancer-fighting I’ve been doing.  All this surviving  has left with me with a pretty messed up gut, and that–my gut–was one of the things in my pre-Cancerful years that I never had a problem with.  In terms of size, or functionality.  My gut always worked real good.

Now, it’s a problem.  It’s one more pain-in-the-me,  in addition to all the other PITMs I still have, or will soon get.  For example, the tiny fracture in my back that I didn’t even know about (because I can’t feel it), which was apparently caused by medications, and not by anything fun like wrestling or climbing or trampoline-jumping.  Medicine fractured my back!  What a pain in the me!

But this is what happens.  You stay in this Cancerful fight long enough and you wind up with a lot of battle scars.  They come at you from all directions, and every single one of them is a pain-in-the-me.  The irony of surviving is that you get beat down.  It’s a war of attrition.  And the collective weight of all these scars eventually starts to feel like it might be heavy enough alone to bring you down, even though you’re still standing, despite the cancer.  (Or sitting, as I currently am.)

So when I told myself this morning that this one particular PITM I’ve been having trouble with– my newly surgically damaged vision — would eventually get better, I laughed.  At myself.  (Which is normal, when you’re having a conversation with yourself.)  I laughed, because…  well then what?

Because, when you’re Cancerful, the PITMs seem to just keep coming.  They come from every direction, and sometimes when you least expect it (much like the Spanish Inquisition.)  Surprisingly, some PITMs suck worse than the cancer that brought them on in the first place (which makes them part of the cancer, I guess?).  And they just keep piling up,  building on each other in one big Cancerful mess, until…

Until…

Hold on.  I gotta take a break.

[10 MINUTE PAUSE.   MAYBE 15.]

 

OK, I’m back.

As you might be able to tell, I”m having a really hard time writing this post.  Sometimes it’s easy, but sometimes it’s not.  This time, it’s not.

You see, this time, it’s actually difficult for me to see what I’m doing.  And I mean that literally:  I’ve had to keep my right eye closed the entire time I’ve been writing this.  With this new vision PITM I’m dealing with, for some reason that somehow makes it easier to focus on a computer screen.  But it’s still hard to focus.  And that’s not even mentioning the difficulties I have getting my brain to focus.

So there’s that, and the gut thing, and…. and even though I had cake for breakfast and I’m sitting in a comfy chair and a there’s a nice breeze blowing through the air… I’ve noticed several times in the last three hours (three hours!) that I’ve had to tell myself to keep going.  To just  finish writing this.

I’m telling myself that right now, in fact.  And I’m not even sure why.  I’m not even sure where I’m going with this.

I started writing this post because an idea popped into my head that I felt like I wanted to write about.  And I like writing.  So I started writing… but now it just feels like I’m complaining.  And I don’t like complaining.

I don’t want to complain anymore.  Ideally, I’d love to not have a reason (or many reasons) to complain anymore… but I know that that’s not going to happen.  I can’t just snap my fingers and make all these PITMs go away.  This is what I’m dealing with right now, and I have to deal with it.  This is where I am, right now, and it’s up to me what to do with it.

So what will the next paragraph entail?

I just smiled, when I wrote that.  I smiled, because it made me realize that right now, while this does suck, while all of these stacked up PITM’s are indeed a real pain in the ass, it is still up to me what to do with it.

I am lucky enough that it still IS up to me.

And that, my Cancerful friends, is bigger than a pain in the gut, or the butt, or the head OR the ass.  And sometimes it’s bigger than all of those combined.

So right now (Write! Now!) I’m going to finish writing this post, to cheer myself up.  I’m going to take this complaint about pains in the ass, and turn it into an encouraging, inspirational (and not painful) kick in the ass.

Because that’s all I got right now.  And you know what?  That’s good enough.  Because it was enough to make me smile again.  Just now.  And that’s a good place to start.

I think it might also be a good place to end.  Because even with only one eye open, it looks to me like I’m about to finish this post.  And I’m happy that I did.  Which means that I’m happy.   I just cheered myself up!  Which means that:

This, too, DID pass!

But what will it pass on to?

Maybe that’s up to me.

THE END.  (?)

Things You Can Still Do

Weird morning.  A lot of death in the air.  And coming from someone whose every day reality is spent wading ankles-deep in mortality (or brain-deep, if you prefer) death being weird is itself kind of weird.

So it got me thinking.  Which it does for all of us, I suppose. Thinking about death is the most difficult and peculiar train of thinking there is, since it feels so desperately important to figure out, and yet it rarely ever allows for any sort of acceptable conclusions, minor or major.

It’s difficult.  Even just thinking about death is difficult.  And that’s saying nothing of actually dying…  (See what I mean?  isn’t that difficult to think about?)

Anyway, what I’m getting at is is this: yes, it’s difficult– it’s really fucking hard, in fact.  It’s hard to understand, it’s hard to accept, and it’s especially hard to live with.

But that’s alright.  Some things are just hard.

The least we can do to ease our myriad burdens (this one in particular) is to avoid beating ourselves up for our inability to comprehend the incomprehensible, to accept the unacceptable.  Better to nod our heads in sad recognition of the fact that we just do not and maybe will never understand certain things.  Like this one particular thing.  And hey– that’s OK!  Because it’s hard! It’s really hard!

Of the many lessons I’ve learned in four years spent brain-deep in The Most Peculiar Of All Subjects, this is one of my favorites: That some things are just hard.  And that’s OK.  It’s OK to not know what to say sometimes, or even to think.
And one of the best things you can to do to make things a little easier is to accept the fact that it’s not always going to be easy.  We’re not always going to be able to figure it out.

But that’s OK.

Sure, it sucks.  Yes, it hurts.  Some times we find ourselves standing in front of a wall that seems so impassable and incomprehensible that we want to just bang our heads against it and scream.  And make ourselves hurt even more, out of frustration that we can’t just magically make it disappear.
But then, if wait long enough, something will change.  Something will come, as easily and lightly as this morning breeze, and we’ll open our eyes, and rub our heads and look up:  and that wall will be gone.  Or at least half as tall as it was.

And we’ll smile, and  we’ll go on.

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about this morning.

And it reminded me of one of the other lessons I’ve learned about death, in my last couple of years wading through it.  Here it is:

There aren’t many things you can still do, after you’re dead.  But one thing you can still do is this:

You can still make people smile.

And that’s really something, isn’t it?

This morning, someone who is no longer here, and about which I am terribly sad, still managed to make me smile.  Just thinking about her… I cried, but then suddenly I smiled.

And as difficult as all of this is, that one little part didn’t feel difficult at all.  That smile came easily, and honestly, and it felt true.  It felt like a gift.  And that gift is as real as the sadness, because here I am smiling again, right now.  Because of her.

She just did that.  Even though she’s gone.

Now that really is something.

Thanks.

Being Used to Being Sick

You know what’s one odd aspect of Being Cancerful (among the many, and they’re usually odd) that I hadn’t paused to notice before but for some reason suddenly just did?  It’s this:

Being used to being sick.

When you’re Cancerful, sickness comes so frequently, and in so many forms, that it becomes a part of life as normal as eating or breathing or using the toilet.  And so, like any normal part of life,  you start to get used to it.  Even if there’s nothing normal about it at all.  Even if it’s super weird.  (Then again, many of the things we consider a “normal part of life” would be super weird if you’d never done them before– I mean, how strange would it be to open a hole in your face, and then stuff a bunch of heated up plants and animals into it?  And then, hours later, to squeeze those same plants and animals out of another hole on the other side of your body, after having somehow absorbed many of their key ingredients and turned the leftovers into something stinky, so that you can keep living?  That sounds really weird, doesn’t it?  But it’s not weird at all, after  you’ve done it a couple of times.)

Similarly, when being sick becomes a regular part of life, you get used to it.  You get used to barfing.  (You get very used to barfing.).  You get used to aching.  You get used to passing out (both involuntarily and by choice).  You get used to eating pills (SO many pills!).  You even get used to feeling as shitty as you’ve ever felt from any fever or cold or virus you’ve ever had in your life,  but now on a daily basis.

You get used to being sick.

And just as often as not, this “being sick” is not even from the cancer, but instead from the things that you’re choosing to do to survive the cancer.  Like chemotherapy.  Or having a genetically modified cold virus injected into your brain.  I’ve chosen to do both of those things– and they both made me sick.

So how d’ya like this:  When you’re Cancerful, you choose to be sick, in order to not be sick.

That seems like it doesn’t make any sense at all.

But for some reason, it does.

And even if it doesn’t, you get used to it.

Like I said, you get used to a lot of really weird shit when you’re playing this Cancerful game.  (Heck, you even get used to the idea of dying.  How about that!)

But I guess getting used to things is the same as learning to live with them.  Which isn’t quite as good as “enjoying” them, but it’s a start.  It’s living, after all.

So I guess I’m OK with being used to being sick.

 

PS:  I’m now three weeks out from Brain Surgery #5, and doing well.  Having an actual real summer this summer (in contrast to last year, when after Brain Surgery #4 I had a Total Lack of A Summer).

So that’s good.  Great, in fact.

Do I feel sick today?  Well of course I do, I’m Cancerful!

But I’m used to it.post 5 head

Five Alive

Guess Who’s Eating Cake For Breakfast?

THIS GUY, that’s who!

Number 5! A Success!

 

So yeah, it was a bit of a bumer missing breakfast the other day, but since then I have not only had my FIFTH SUCCESSFUL BRAIN SURGERY —  I’ve also eaten CAKE for breakfast every single day since then.

So it seems  fair to say this has been a pretty successful week, when all is said and done.  Right?

Here’s a recap:

• TUESDAY morning: Brain Surgery  for breakfast.
(Extremely graphic [picture fothcoming, I hope.)
I have asked for a photograph of the inside of my brains every time I’ve had brain surgery,, but still have not gotten one.  This is in fact the only complaint I have about my neurosurgery team.  (Which is definitely a good thing
 )
I did, however, get a picture of myself cooling my brain off with an icy Shasta Ginger Ale immediately post-op– this was the closest I got to eating something all day (And it was delicious):

Shasta!

Shasta never tasted so sweet…

 

• WEDNESDAY morning:  Red velvet cake for breakfast!

I can eat cake!  (And talk!  And walk! And see!  And remember things!)

Delicious, AND easy to chew!

Delicious, AND easy to chew!

Most importantly, I can eat cake.   And I can do it so well, I figured I’d do it again the next day…

Thursday Morning: : Chocolate Marshmallow Peanut Butter Cup cake for breakfast!
For those of yous who come from where I come from, what we have here is basically a super fancy Tastykake Kandy Kake.  I’m not gonna say it’s better than the original, but it’s  kinda even better than the original.

KandyBrainKake!

KandyBrainKake!

 

So there you have it!  Fifth Successful brain surgery earns you two things:

  1. Cake for breakfast!
  2. 2 Less cancer in your brain!

Speaking of which, the surgery itself was extremely successful– I did wake up with a brish accent, but I don’t mind that so much.  Better than when I woke up speaking Cantonese, in Hong Kong.

They were able to remove about 90% of the tumor cells that were in there– digging any deeper ould have potentially removed my ability to eat cake (at least) so they left a little bit of stuff left in there, to be safe.  But   But there’s always been a little stuffleft in there.  For four years now.   So I’m OK with that.

Because I can eat cake!

I will be doing some followup treatment after this to deal with the remaining tumor (and ccake) in my brain, but it shouldn’t be too big of a deal.  And hey, I’ve always got brain surgery #6 to look forward to!

But before then, I think I’m gonna go down the shore, and eat some real breakfast: scrapple & eggs.  Cake for breakfast is good and everything, but it’s a little sweet.

Cheers!

 

PS: All this talk (and photography) of heavy sugar consumption brings something to mind:  when you get cancer, everybody and their mother tells you to avoid sugar, because “cancer eats sugar!” “and blah blah blah blah (they also tell you to smoke lots of weed & put tumeric in your coffee, so take it all with grain of salt.  Or sugar, as it were.)  But what I have actually learned to be the truth of the matter, is that while cancer cells do eat a lot of blood sugar, the only way you’d actually be able to affect them in this way would be to completely & utterly stop eating anything that contains any kind of sugar or carbohydrates, completely.  So no fruit, bread, no vegetables, etc.  Which isn’t the best idea.
In the very least, heavy sugar consumption isn’t good for anybody (Cancerful or not).  But even if you are Cancerful, don’t be afraid of eating a piece of chocolate here and there, especially if you believe that chocolate is important for your survival (as I do).

It’s not going to kill you.  Literally.

So that’s it for now!  I’m going to finish my cake for breakfast, have a little piece of chocolate, and then I’ll be home-weet-home later this afternoon!

Thanks to everybody for the well wishes, and especially to the friends who brought me cake!  I love you all.
( I just love the ones who brought cake a little bit more 😉 )

Guess Who’s Having Brain Surgery Today?

This guy!

FullSizeRender

 

Did you ever just wake up on a random Tuesday morning, and think to yourself:
“You know what I’d REALLY like to do today?
What I’d REALLY like to do today is…

Have a nice, delicious breakfast!

Maybe some eggs, maybe some pancakes, maybe both… definitely some OJ and a really good cup of coffee.”

But then you think:

“Oh shit, I can’t do that, because I’m having brain surgery today and I can’t eat or drink ANYTHING!  I can’t even have a damn glass of water!”

No?

You’ve never had that happen to you on a random Tuesday morning?

Well, I have.  In fact, that exact thing just happened to me this morning!

So color me extremely disappointed that I’m not having a delicious breakfast this morning.  Not even a damn glass of water!

But let’s look at the bright side– after my sad realization about no breakfast, my next thought was “Oooo I get to take a nice long nap this afternoon!”  (A six hour nap, to be precise.  Whilst mine brains are being sliced & diced like pork roll and scrambled eggs.  [Aw man, I’m hungry! I want some pork roll and scrambled eggs!])

Oh well.  I’ll have breakfast tomorrow.

So anyway, let’s get over this big breakfast shock and move onto the brain surgery thing…

So I’m having brain surgery.  NUMBER FIVE!  (yup.)   Around noon.  Today.
On an empty stomach.  (What a pain in the ass!)

No, but actually, breakfast or no breakfast, I’m kind of excited about the brain surgery thing.

Primarily, because 5 brain surgeries is cooler than 4.

But also, because it’s an option.  And that’s why I’m doing it:  because I can!

That may sound kind of twisted (there has been some debate around here if maybe I’m just one of those weird people who’s addicted to self-mutilation–in my case in the form of craniotomies), but what I really mean by “I’m doing it because I can” is this:

I’ve (still) got some brain cancer up there in my brain, as I’ve had pretty much continually for just over 4 years now, and it has grown a teeeeeeny little bit over the last six months or so.  It’s growing really slowly, which is really unusual for glioblastoma. So that’s good.

But because it’s still there, and because it still is entirely within a part of brain that you can pretty much entirely remove without messing anything up, the thought is this:

“Hey, why not skip breakfast and just have brain surgery today, and get that fuckin’ thing out of there so we don’t have to look at it anymore??”

So that’s pretty much what’s going on.

It’s good that this thing has only been growing extremely slowly.  And it’s very good that it hasn’t grown (or leapt) into any other parts of my brain– because there are MANY parts of your brain that you can NOT remove without seriously messing things up.

So while my little brain chance is still… let’s call it “slow and accessible,” we just decided last night to skip breakfast and have a go at it, while the going is good.

Speaking of going when the going is good, I just got back from some VERY good going!

Yesterday morning, I woke up in Montreal.  (I had breakfast there.)  The morning before that I woke up in France.  (Also had breakfast.)
A couple mornings before that I woke up in England, before that Holland, and Spain, and… you get the point.  LOTS of delicious breakfasts (mostly muesli, in fact.)
So I was on a trip!  For a couple of weeks.  Visiting some very lovely friends, in some very lovely places.
And it was wonderful.  And I’m sure glad I went, when the going was good!

And I’m happy to be home, and since this is where I usually have all my brain surgeries (except for that one in Hong Kong), I figure what the hell, how ’bout another!  Less than 24 hours after I arrived!

And in case you’re worried– don’t be.  I’m quite sure that the going will still be good later this afternoon, after I wake up from my fifth brain surgery.  And shortly after that, I hope to eat some muesli.  Or pork roll.  Or both.

Good morning!

 

PS: No, I’m not jogging to the hospital this time, wise ass.  On an empty stomach?  No way!

The First Day of Summer

Today I went skiing for the first time this winter.  On what was actually the first day of summer.  A late start, but it happened.

And the fact that it did is kind of a big deal for me.  Here’s why…

Three months ago, I could barely climb up my stairs.  My legs were so withered and weak from a year of Cancerful brutalization, that it was difficult for me to even just put shoes on, let alone walk or run or do anything to get my legs back to where they were a year ago.  When I used to go two steps at a time.

I’ve worked through it and gotten my legs back a bit, but even now my feet and knees are so sore every day (from another mysterious Cancerful side effect) that I have a hard time walking down my stairs. It hurts.  A lot.

But I’ve been doing it anyway.  I mean, I have to walk down my stairs just to get outside.  To do anything.  And as you might know, I like doing things.  Especially if they’re fun.

For example: I’d been really, really wanting to go skiing this year, before the season was over. Just one day. Just a couple of runs. If I didn’t, it would be my first year not in the snow in a loooooong time. I’ve had a solid ski streak going for probably 20 years. Even through the first few years of cancer.  I skied all those years.

I just really like it.  I enjoy the actual skiing parts of skiing, but what I really love is being outside, in the snow and the sun. On a mountain.  Breathing that ultra crisp, thin air.  And sometimes flying through it at 55 mph.  It’s pretty great.  Just doing that every once in awhile, as I have now for some three decades,  kinda keeps me going in a way.  Always has.

Maybe even more since I got sick.

Two years ago, even though I was all brain cancered-up and barely had any money, I went skiing one day, and it felt f’in great.  I enjoyed it so much that I decided to buy myself a season pass for the next year.

I didn’t use that pass much, but I did use it.  And even though I didn’t use it enough to make it technically financially worth it, I’m glad I bought it. Just having that thing in my wallet, wanting me and reminding me to use it, gave me little flashes of hope– little dreams of me out there on the mountain, living it up and breathing it in.  That barely-used pass gave me something to look forward to.  And actually, that in itself made it totally financially worth it.

Last year, I did something similar.  I managed to go skiing once, and despite the fact that I was still poor and even more cancered up, I bought a pair of ski boots.

This was a big deal for me– it was the first pair of ski boots I’ve ever had that actually fit my weird, wide hobbit feet.  (I realize now that an indication of how much I like skiing is how much pain I’ve put myself through to do it.)

So I got those boots that finally fit my feet.  And I got to use them– once.  And they were great. They didn’t hurt!  (As much as normal, at least.)

I loved those boots.  And I loved that I got them, despite all the reasons not to.  They were a symbol of something.  They were a promise to myself, of more fun to come.

But then, ski season ended.   As it does. And then last summer came, and suddenly things started getting worse for me, health-wise.  Suddenly it wasn’t just cancer, it was all this other bullshit as a result of the cancer that started pulling me down.  It was bad.   Things got so shitty, in fact, that I started to wonder when i’d be able to use those boots again.  I wouldn’t let myself think “if” I’d be able to use them again.  I knew I would.  I promised myself I would.

And even if I wasn’t using them as the winter started (since I was mostly in a hospital bed) I liked imagining using them. And I was still glad I had bought them.  Like the ski pass, they were a symbol of something.  Of Hope.

That shit is powerful.  It has kept me skiing through cancer.  And even when I couldn’t, it has kept me dreaming that I would again.  Hopefully.

Hope has gotten me through this.  It got me to go ice climbing, for some reason.  And in the form of a one-legged Canadian guy named Terry Fox, Hope actually got me to run 27 miles.  In a row.  In Newfoundland.  In an effort to get myself to write a movie that could cure cancer.

Like I said: powerful shit, Hope.  Without it, I wouldn’t have done any of that stuff.     (I can barely believe I did any of that stuff, even with something as powerful as a mountain of hope.)

But after this last year, in which I experienced more of the bad side of being Cancerful than in the first three years combined, my hope was starting to dwindle.

In the very least, it was becoming a little less ambitious.  I mean– ice climbing?  Marathons?  Cancer-curing movies?  Who the hell thinks they can do that shit??  Not me!  I was so sick and weak I was just hoping I could stand up and put my pants on.

But for some reason, I did keep hoping I’d get to use those ski boots again.  Even when I could barely walk.  And somehow, that didn’t seem stupid.

Turns out, it wasn’t. Turns out, I got better.  (Well, a little better.)

Recently, I not only started walking and hiking again– I also started to think I might be able to ski again.  Just one day.  Please.  Just let me have that.  I really hoped I could do it.  I damn well knew I could try.

But winter was over.  It was well into spring now– most ski places had closed. But since who the hell knows if I’ll be around for the next season, I kept checking if any places were still open NOW.  And it turns out one was– Mammoth Mountain.  They had gotten enough snow over the winter that they were still open.  In June.

That’s all I needed to know.  I already had my skis, and my only-used-once brand new boots.

And so, on a day when it was 106 degrees at my home in LA, I just went skiing.  In a t shirt.   On the first day of summer.

I’m glad I hoped that I would.

Because I did.

And I’m so happy that I did.

Granted, I feel like my legs might fall off at the thigh when I’m sleeping tonight, but it was worth it.

Today, I confirmed Hope.

And thank hope for that.