Resolve: Words Optional

Just when I was beginning to wonder if I was perhaps not a very nice person after all, that I was maybe the only blogger out there who was not feeling particularly sanguine, philosophical, grateful, brave, accepting, noble, etcetera and so forth, about facing 2012 with some sort of valiant resolve to be a better person, achieve world peace, and — why not? — maybe help cure cancer, some of my cyber sisters reassured me by proxy.

First, there was this post by Katie on Uneasy Pink that got me thinking about what motivates us to blog. She has noted a shift in her perspective over the past several months, and wonders where it’s brought her. While her commitment to the meaningful issues she has so ably identified has not wavered, she has realized the wisdom of picking her battles, that going head-to-head with some of the most egregious examples of foolishness out there in the land of breast cancer non-awareness “is a tremendous drain of energy. […] that if I take on a fight, the fight becomes the central issue. While I feel it’s important to stand up to these people and places, I worry that I run the risk of creating just another distraction from the truth about breast cancer.”

I think I’ve been wrestling for a while now with a bit of outrage-fatigue myself. Not that I haven’t been up to the ol’ snark, high dudgeon and righteous indignation since, but a steady diet is wearying. And it doesn’t pay the mortgage. Meanwhile, I’m still slogging my way through this vast archeological dig known as “trying to get my life back.” Howard Carter had an easier time uncovering King Tut’s tomb.

Several of my blog sisters have written posts about coming up with three words to help guide them through 2012, inspired by Philippa at Feisty Blue Gecko. And they’ve been wonderful words — like “resilience, escapade and wonder,” the words Philippa chose for this year; or “create, nurture and appreciate,” the words chosen by Jackie at Dispatch from Second Base. Over on Twitter, one of the weekly Breast Cancer Social Media tweetchats (#bcsm), hosted by Jody of Women With Cancer, was devoted to picking three words for 2012 and was a rousing success.

In an attempt not to be a New Year’s grinch, I tried to come up with three words myself, but somehow, my heart just wasn’t in it. Not that I didn’t come up with some words. But the ones I kept coming up with all started with the prefix “re-” — an endless stream of words like renew, restore, reclaim, rediscover, repair. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of them. But I began to wonder about that prefix, the “again” of it. There was a message in that “again” that bothered me. It suggested that I was trying to go back, trying to find that person I used to be before breast cancer. And that person is gone. And I haven’t recovered (another “re-” word) from that loss. And maybe I never will. Huge, life-changing losses are like that. They may hurt less over time, but they never really go away. Instead, they reside in us, seem to become part of our DNA.

In my stream of consciousness, I thought of a “re-” word in another language — the word ‘rechercher’, which means to search or retrieve — literally re-chercher, to look again. It occupies a famous phrase, which is the title of Marcel Proust’s magnum opus, ร€ la Recherche du Temps Perdu. For years, the accepted title in English was “Remembrance of Things Past.” But that translation did not at all capture the feeling that prompted me to think of the word. It was the literal translation of the title that expressed it more closely — “in search of lost time.” And I discovered that, in fact, that translation has now become the accepted English version of Proust’s title. And that’s what all those vaguely disturbing “re-” words were saying, that I was once again, as I’ve done almost non-stop since being diagnosed, searching for lost time, my lost time — time, identity, energy, accomplishment, morphology, all lost to cancer. And I know that such a search is inevitably a waste of time.

In mid-December, I did manage to conjure a little Photoshop distraction, inspired by a YouTube video that my friend Rachel found. It was a video about a fundraising partnership between the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Instinct Archery, the latter of which was selling ‘Hope’ pink-ribbon recurve bows to raise money for NBCF. The video started off with a row of male hunters, hanging out in the woods in their requisite plaid shirts, shooting arrows at several deer, followed by a pitch for these pink bows. Killing Deer for the Cure?? I wanted to embed this astoundingly ironic video in this post. But sometime in the few weeks since Rach, myself and several other bloggers lampooned it on Facebook, including a version of the Photoshopped image above that I posted on my blog’s FB page, I discovered that the video is now marked “Private.” Now, even the above link for these bows no longer includes any mention of NBCF. Apparently, we may have unwittingly pulled off another successful campaign of guerilla snark!

Well, that was cheering, but I was still stumbling over my temps perdu, wondering what the heck to do or say about it all. And once again, my cyber-sisters came to the rescue, starting with singleshot1 and her gloves-off post, Chuckles, the cancer clown, about what we mask with our glib one-liners and snark-du-jour.

Then came Rach, and her post, 2012, With No Apologies to 2011. Another marvel of tart truth-telling, she summarizes the reality of living with metastatic breast cancer last year, and the impact it may have on this one. Her three words: “I’m still here.” Her strategem: bitchblogging.

And then, I noticed some good ol’ astringent and righteous ranting on the FB profiles of a few of my ol’ breast cancer forum buddies, these wise and wise-cracking wenches who got me though many a midnight while I was enduring treatment, as we plotted revenge against those numberless numbnuts-who-are-mean-to-cancer-patients, by forming a band of bald, burnt, lopsided, estrogen-deprived breast cancer harpies, armed with pitchforks and power tools to even up the score.

And at last, I began to feel a wave of relief well up inside. I’m not a freak! Goddess-bless-me, I’m not alone!

And then I thought, if I really followed my inclinations, I’d choose three expletives as my words for the year. I can come up with several more than three of those to describe how I feel about 2011. As far as 2012 goes, I’ve observed thus far that cancer is still attacking my friends, still attacking their friends and family members, still running roughshod over our daily lives, still the backdrop for even the good stuff we choose to do, so we can have us a nice, juicy dose of sort-of-normal now and then.

So, do forgive me, those of you with kinder, gentler hearts than mine, but at the moment, I’ve got nothing insightful to say about 2011, nothing inspiring to say about 2012. And I don’t give a rodent’s derriere either. And I’m sure as hell not big on that ‘Hope’ shit. It may kill a few deer, but it hasn’t cured anything. Plans are good, though. I like plans. The best thing I accomplished last year was to re-learn (yes, I know…) how to make plans. And even to fulfill some of them. But plans are dicey, too. Because you never know. Because, as has been stated at the top of this blog for three years now, life is what happens when we’re making other plans.

But you know what? A lot of us are still here. And for now, I’m quite blankety-blank-blank relieved about that.

Let the bitching begin!

This entry was written by Kathi, posted on Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm, filed under Attitude, Fighting the Pink Peril, Life & Mortality, Metastastatic Breast Cancer and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

14 Responses to “Resolve: Words Optional”

  1. Thanks for mentioning my Chuckles, the Cancer Clown blog post, Amazon. Much appreciated! And lovely blog post. I’m still searching for my lost time, too (aren’t we all?). Mostly in vain, I’m afraid. Much like Rach, though, I’m still here. And that’s what counts.

  2. Diane, I so look forward to your post on ‘freakin men.’ ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. LIKE! You know now we’re going to be known as the bitchbloggers right?????

  4. I’m not a woman, and I’ve not been diagnosed with cancer – but I’d still like to be a bitchblogger. Because thanks to breast cancer my temps have definitely beed perdued!

  5. Rach, I’m PROUD to be a bitchblogger! And now I must get to work on the teeshirt…

    Ronnie, bitchblogging does not discriminate according to race, creed, gender, sexual preference, or country of origin. The only criteria for inclusion are admitting that your temps has been perdued by cancer and a willingness to embrace snark as your guiding force. I’d say you qualify.

  6. Happy New Year to you!! Glad to hear you’re making or at least thinking of making plans, and no question, you’re not alone. While the “3 words” thing worked for me, we all need balance – a little hope & optimism, a little snark and realism – perfect! Looking forward to more posts, and please, keep following your heart.

  7. Well said Kathi! I am probably too much of a wimp to be a bitchblogger, but satisfy the criteria otherwise, and have oodles of feist even if I am sometimes lacking in snarkability.

    What I really like about this post, is the way this idea of 3 words has been a kind of starting point for all sorts of thoughts. The 3 words thing works for me, and I love the whole process of choosing them, but I snorted with laughter when I saw Rachel’s “WTF” as another option and your thoughts of three cancer curses, which has set me off thinking again………………… Different things suit different folks, and even that varies at different times.

    Thanks for a great and refreshing post. Oh darn, there’s another re word ๐Ÿ˜‰


  8. LOL, Philippa!! You are, as always, a role model, with all your amazing travels and adventures. And yes, all your feist! It has been interesting how your three-word idea has spawned so many different responses. Since I am the self-appointed Queen of Snark, naturally I had to do a snarky take on it. Snark, by my definition, is composed of equal parts perspective, noir humor, satire and candor, with more than a smidgeon of “the dark side.” If I can make myself laugh, I usually feel better. It means I’ve been successful in stepping outside of myself and getting a grip on what’s going on. Can’t get past your obstacles if you can’t see ’em, after all.

    Deanna, it really was a wonderful thing last year that I could plan things that were difficult and complicated (like going to the NBCC Conference in Washington DC in April, like getting home renovations done, like gathering all the accoutrements I would need to dress as Alice Roosevelt, who had breast cancer, and represent her at a breast cancer benefit in her home town on Long Island. And GET to Long Island!!). I was very proud of myself. Took me ages to recover, but I couldn’t have even thought of doing any of the above in 2010. Progress!

    My great-aunt Fanny used to joke about cuss words all the time when I was a kid. When she really wanted to be ‘racy,’ she would utter her three words altogether, which were ‘fart, crap and poop.’ LOL. Snark is genetic in my family.

  9. Yes, Kathi, sigh, I can so re-late to all of this… the sense of loss is enormous and sometimes I re-alise that there’s no point looking for things that are lost forever… Like you I’ll settle for ‘nice, juicy dose of sort-of-normal’ as often as possible please!

  10. Kathi,

    You totally ROCK!! I love this posting, and I’ve always loved your snarkiness. Keep “bitchblogging” and keep up your attitude. That is what makes you so unique, plus you are a damn straight-shooting, brilliant writer!

  11. Sarah, I guess the trick is stringing together as many doses of sort-of-normal as we can!! xoxo

    Aw, Beth, you’re making me blush!! xoxo ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I laughed my ass off when I read this the first time. THOUGHT I left a comment. I probably did and never sent it… seems I always have unsent emails and unposted comments and UNPAID AND VERY LATE bills. SO…. I love the fact that I am reading about your dress up party on Long Island. I SAW the picture on the website for the charity. I’m trying to get all these LI charities to plug Army of Women at their fund raisers. Ummm duh? You raise the money and fund the studies, AOW will provide the pool of women. Anyhooooooo….. I met Tobey today for lunch and she positively ROCKS my world in ways I can’t describe. Truly helping people at the most basic level during what is a very low point in their lives. SHE told me you were at that event. And that she was there, too. Small small small world…… Hope, nah…. we need to be rebels….. It wasn’t the quiet women that got us the right to vote…. and it won’t be the quiet ones (or the CONSTANTLY HAPPY ONES) who push for a cure. Sign me up. I want to be a Bitchblogger.

  13. Oh, AnneMarie, I’d say you already ARE a bitchblogger!! xoxo

  14. I love your ripe attitude. Nice and sassy and true. Who can tell what 2012 and beyond will bring? So bring on the pity parties without excuse. Why not? Life is short and hard.

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