the quotable mo sheppo, part 26

“I’m buying you a late Christmas present! What’s your Visa account number?”

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ketchum, ID

 “When you make plans,
then you have expectations,
and when you have expectations …
you will get disappointed.”
— the prophet luke danes

You have that One Thing You’ll Never Have to Worry About. How many chances in life do you have for One Thing You’ll Never Have to Worry About?

And then.

“What we meant to say was that the thing we agreed to will instead be something entirely different,” the email reads. And with that, everything changed.

Back to the drawing board. This is mildly disturbing, because I don’t actually have a drawing board. I have a desk with a piece of paper on it that I suppose I could draw on, but whenever I have the urge to draw I follow the prophet lebowitz’s advice and eat something sweet instead.

Why can’t life make sense? Why can’t things ever be easy? Why isn’t it Jan. 21 yet? Why can’t I think about Muppet babies without conjuring up the process that created them?

And that was the non-Hallmark movie end of Boy Meets Shoe, Boy Loses Shoe, Boy Gets Shoe Again.

You say “How are you.” I say I don’t know.
Let’s dissolve the band, move to Idaho.

Never have expectations. That’s the lesson. And maybe don’t depend on life philosophies from old “Gilmore Girls” episodes.

But mostly, never trust running shoe companies. Or muppets.

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things i wish i had said, part 91

“Very few people possess true artistic ability. It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort. If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass.”

— fran lebowitz

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life yin/yang

There’s a hole in the drywall still not fixed
I just haven’t gotten around
to fixing it. And besides,
I’m starting to get used to the gaps.
— the prophet julien rose baker

Yin: One unit of “packed red cell” blood later, I still feel lousy. But maybe that’s to be expected after a week like this one. I was watching Maddow as the three-hour transfusion session came to an end with 20 minutes still left in the show. “I can just pull the curtain and you can watch the rest before you go,” the nurse said. I thanked her but said I’ve seen enough. And I have.

I had visions of magically feel better after the transfusion, but I hadn’t factored in that today was second day of back-to-back doses of the nastier chemo, so I’m content to  feel like a Mini Winnie hit me, rather than the Willie Nelson tour bus. Although if I had been hit by the Willie Nelson tour bus, they likely would’ve offered me marijuana and handguns. But then I’d end up in an overnight stay in the Sierra Blanca red blood cell, which would create an entirely different yin/yang.

It was super creepy to watch the blood going through the IV line into my arm. I’m not big on the sight of blood. “Just think of it as Kool-Aid,” the nurse offered. But it was just as creepy to watch Kool-Aid going through the IV line into my arm. And then I couldn’t stop thinking about the weird Kool-Aid pitcher dancing around and singing in the commercial. I likely will never drink blood Kool-Aid again. If I have Kool-Aid pitcher dreams tonight I’m totally suing Mayo.

But she ended up trying to put a piece of paper over so I’d stop staring at it, so I suppose all is forgiven. I’m starting to get used to the gaps.

And thanks, person who gave me this blood. I’ll try and make it count. But I won’t make it subtract 7 from 100.

Yang: They’re throwing Char out of rehab tomorrow. I talked to her today and she said the constant cognitive tests were annoying her. She could never do math before the incident she says, so it’s a bit late to start now. And I think this makes a lot of sense. I remember in high school how the teacher said we would use algebra the rest of our lives. I’m still waiting. So why does a 91-year-old need to know how to subtract 7 from 100? Is this going to come up in real life? Just buy her an Alexa and be done with it.

The rehab center liaison says they have her labeled as a “spitfire,” which I assume is technical medical talk for “pain in the ass.”

We were talking on the phone today while we stood outside the room looking through the window. She kept asking me where our car was. I pointed it out, just across a little gravel patch between the building and the parking lot. At that point, a physical therapist opened her door to the outside door to say hello to us, giving Char a clear escape route. I had visions of Kate, Mo’s cat who would feign total disinterest in escape before suddenly flying out the door and down to the gated pool area, where she would sit for hours smirking at me, as I had no pool key. I suspect this is why Char is coming home tomorrow.

She’s going straight from rehab to living alone again, bypassing the assisted living Act 2 of the play. She couldn’t be happier, and we couldn’t be more terrified. I should probably hide her box of marijuana and handguns before she returns. 

Funny how life always seems to balance out …

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“There are no symptoms to age.
If I can dodge the mirror in the morning,
I’m an 18-year-old.”
— the prophet sheehan

In my head I’m running a marathon, and I’m about to go full-out Lance Armstrong.

If a chemo marathon is like a real 26.2188 mile race (and nothing in my brochure indicates it is not), I’m somewhere around mile 8. It’s that point where you haven’t quite settled in — caught between the naive, carefree early miles of the race and the knowledge in the back of your cabeza that it’s only a matter of time before things turn ugly. And so I shuffle along. Relentless forward progress, the prophet Powell said. Bathroom stops sold separately.

 It feels familiar. In the early stages, it’s impossible to say how the race will turn out. You can only chase after the mile markers, enjoy the scenery, wave at the people. You have no idea at mile 8 whether a PR or a DNF is at the end of the road that stretches out farther than you can see, if you dare to look.

All you can do is run and try to pace yourself. And hope.

A helium balloon floats in the distance in the skies near the mountains as I pass the hours in my little home away from home at Mayo, determined not to look at the watch. The balloon is the chemo version of some old guy ’70s band along the race course, banging out “Can’t Get Enough of Your love” for the millionth time after 45 years, give or take a chorus. The nurse offers a water bottle at your little chairside aid station; the port-a-pot is just off the course. Drifting along on Benadryl, the chemical substitute for endorphins, focused on turning back the clock, cheating the inevitable for one more good race. Please. Just one more.

Dr. Sheehan was right. I’m still an 18-year-old who refuses to come to terms with aging. I go out each day thinking maybe THIS will be the day where running will return, the miles reduced to a blur, my inner Cassidy springing forth to by God, let my demons loose and just wail on. Aging is just a state of mind, right? I have the mind of a fictional runner at a Southeastern university  based on the University of Florida before questioning the dress code. I am flying.

Then I look down at my Garmin. 1 mile in 22 minutes and change, a heart rate average that indicates I was pushing the pace nonetheless, an exhaustion that defies the meager distance, a Vo2 max that’s sinking faster than Ted Cruz’s presidential hopes. I walked 1 mile and Garmin says I need 30 hours to recover. Garmin has a twisted sense of humor.

I wonder what the point is.

And then I look around. My best friend is sitting next to me in her battered Hokas on the park bench as we watch the dying embers of a magnificent sunset. Boombox Stingray Guy cruises by at 80 decibels. The world’s cutest dog eyes us, just making sure we are aware he is the world’s cutest dog. We are, indeed.

The tests today showed that I’m out of blood, which apparently is a bad thing, so I get my first transfusion tomorrow. This is along with chemo, which comes with a dose of steroids, so I’m basically destined to become Floyd Landis without the goofy mustache. Oh, wait. I also have a goofy mustache. Never mind. Think positive. A Positive, to be exact.

Tomorrow night, after the smoke settles and the fog begins to clear out of my brain, I’ll re-create the Tour de France  at the bird park, drugged to the gills while screaming “DOPA! DOPA! DOPA!” at myself as I set out for my daily mile. If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying, Fozzie Bear told Kermit in his natural habitat, a Studebaker. Never doubt Fozzie Bear. Hmm. Maybe I’ll change DOPA DOPA DOPA to WOKKA WOKKA WOKKA.

There are no symptoms to age. Just dodge the mirror. And maybe stop looking at the damn Garmin.

Never once did I set out to win a marathon. Only to finish in whatever manner the running gods had in store for me. That’s my plan with this marathon.

Is there a heaven for balloons? the prophet Williams asked. Maybe. Or maybe it’s just a one-third mile loop around a pond where the birds hang out. Close enough.

Here’s to life, Roger. Vive Le Bird Park Tour de France. Livestrong.

Mostly, here’s to the next mile. Wail on.


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