Brief

This will be brief.

In the last few days, especially after the blog episodes Flatliners, and 9 1/2 Weeks (Aren’t movie titles for blog posts fun?) I’ve encountered some curiously protective and loving thoughts from friends… nooooo, not the Circle Friends I mentioned in Circle of Friends Parts 1 and 2, The Martian, and Rashomon, but Ride or Die, I’ll Follow You into the Dark… friends.

Sharing thoughts like (about my first bike ride since surgery), “It still feels too soon, but I’m glad you enjoyed it.” Or (on a walk through the neighborhood), “Thank you for sharing your beautiful being with me.”

And I’m more grateful than I can say.

So for all of you, whether in post threads, DMs, or in person, I want to tell you all that I love you for who you are, and who you have shown yourselves to be, for me. You have convinced me that we belong to each other, and I will hold you in my heart, forever.

(c) copyright 2020 William S. Friday

The Martian

Isolation is real.

Whether in the case of astronaut Mark Watney, played in the movie by Matt Damon, stranded alone for a year-and-a-half on the surface of the planet Mars, or anyone experiencing isolation of any kind. I loved that movie BEFORE its implications meant more to me this year, when the common isolation of spring and summer gave way to another kind of isolation this fall.

In the last post, I talked about one kind of isolation. The one where you need to quiet the voices in a time of crisis. In this post, I’m talking about another kind of isolation.

Human beings make assumptions every day. A warm morning without a check of the weather app could mean not having a jacket with you when the rain hits that afternoon. A whirlwind romance without asking the newfound love of your life if they were raised by any character from season 8 of American Horror Story, and you could end up parenting the Antichrist. Or, making friends with people who are only there for you when things are good, could leave you wondering if there is some commonly held (but not by you because you make assumptions every day) belief that cancer is contagious, and that it can be spread through text messages or phone calls.

By the way, if, while reading this, you start believing the above paragraph applies to you…

*shrugs*

…maybe not. I mean, every disciple asked Jesus if THEY were the one who would betray him. And I have no friends named Judas. But really, there is no better way to know who was carrying the friendship load than for one of those people in that friendship to come down with a very socially awkward disease. And by awkward I mean, one nobody likes talking about because it makes them uncomfortable trying to navigate the feelings they get when that disease invades their comfy hi, how ya doin’ relationships.

And I guarantee you, I have done this myself in the past. I have self-preservation ghosted people before. Never explained it. Just did what I believed I needed to do for my own well-being, not even considering the feelings of that other person. Trust me, this recent revelation, the done to as well as the doing to, was eye-opening in a way that only having a potentially life-ending disease, and all the time in the world while living during a world-wide pandemic, can be.

So yeah, make that two *shrugs*.

Because everybody has their limit. Some people take the elevator. Some people take the stairs. Because not everybody can handle the stairs, and that’s okay. Some people just aren’t given a choice. So for now, this is my stairs. And anyone who wants to take the stairs with me, can. But if you feel the need to take the elevator, don’t worry. Maybe we’ll see each other when we both get to where we’re going.

(c) copyright 2020 William S. Friday

Rashomon

“When that long-anticipated first conversation with your oncologist leaves you feeling like the words, ‘Today, you are cancer-free’ are as temporary as a sandcastle at hightide.”

This is a day for catching up with the present.

(flashback)

For the last three days, I have written about what happened to me during that week in August, when an innocuous trip the bathroom (“There Will Be Blood”) turned into a completely unexpected diagnosis of cancer (“Panic Room”) and soon after, how having nothing to say isn’t necessarily a bad thing when there’s nothing left to do but the next thing, and the next (“Requiem for a Dream”).

You may have also noticed that every post title is taken from a movie I’ve seen.

That’s also something that, if you know me, you know this is how my brain works, and how it will keep working, all the way through this series. This day is for flash-forwards and flashbacks. No particular order. Just telling the story as it tells itself. And this is a story about those who know me best.

(flash-forward)

Yesterday, four weeks to the day since my surgery to remove a cancer-ridden kidney, I had my talk with an assigned oncologist. It was not what I expected. In these protracted days of Covid-19, first conversations take place on the telephone, not in person. In the case of this first conversation, the oncologist spoke and I listened. I took notes and then asked questions to the best of my untrained and overwhelmed ability.

When I want to be, I’m pretty good at asking questions in a vacuum. Yesterday, I did my in a vacuum best. But after an hour of statement-question-reply-question-answer, I had a full page of handwritten notes, and now, one day later, even more questions than yesterday I had answers for. Today, I did something about that. I asked my friends who have been there and done that. A friend who has survived cancer. Another friend who’s father lived five years with late-stage cancer, with her as his primary caregiver. And one other who has been down the kidney disease road, and come out on top. Their wisdom, both theoretical and practical, helped me navigate more than just a resetting of my understanding, but more important, a repurposing of my personal strategy to overcome this shit, and live.

(flashback)

In mid-September, I sent out the first of a series of texts and DMs to people I had considered what came to be called the “First Circle” friends. That is, those who would be told first, by virtue of the frequency of communications between the two of us. A couple of dozen folks. The essence of that message was to tell them that I had been gotten a preliminary diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma, and that I was waiting for further steps to be taken, which would ultimately lead to surgery. In late September, having been given a date for my surgery, I sent a second round of texts and DMs to the First Circle, and a similarly-crafted message to folks in what came to be called the “Second Circle”. Ultimately, with a couple of days to go before the surgery was to take place, a final “Third Circle” message was sent to let those who, for a multitude of reasons, I had not previously informed.

So, you know how you can think you know someone… until you REALLY know someone… and then you realize you really didn’t know them at all? I will never assume anything about a Circle Friend EVER again. Through this, I have learned that a friend is not that person you assumed they were. A friend is someone who exists in reality, not in your mind. And not in your own wishful thinking about them. And a good friend is someone who never thought they needed to try and convince you of who they already were all along.

(flash-forward)

(c) copyright 2020 William S. Friday

Projection

After more than three years, I still begin almost every day with a cup of black coffee, followed by time spent in the blank pages of my journal. Originally, this practice of self-care… at the suggestion of a dearest friend… was begun as an attempt to find my way out of a year-long “depressive episode”, that had led me down a dark emotional path.

What began as a desperate attempt to climb out of a dark hole, eventually became a road of discovery that brought me back into the light.

This is an Instagram post of a thought that came to me today, while the coffee was still warm. It stands on its own merits. But there were still more words to follow.

Continue reading “Projection”

Letting Go of the Ghosts

Minding your own business. All’s quiet. There’s a noise in the room… you think. Or maybe it’s just in your head. Yeah, it’s in your head.

It’s always been in your head. Where the ghosts live.

Start. Stop. Start again. Stop some more.

It gets old fast.

Writing. Not writing. Writing again. Not writing some more.

It gets old fast. I got old fast. So did the ghosts. Except ghosts stay the same as they were before they were ghosts. The memories of them, unchanged, from when they were new.

And the worst thing is, they aren’t even there.

Start. Don’t stop.

Writing. Writing again.

Letting go of the ghosts.

 

©️2020 William S. Friday

Six Tacos

tacos png

Today, I ate six tacos from Del Taco, and watched a movie that I wished had been about my life.  Also, I considered day drinking, but there was company in the downstairs, and I didn’t want to have to explain to anyone why I was crafting a boilermaker at 2:54 in the afternoon.  The movie was about a child musical prodigy, and his college age summer nanny.

And before you think that thought out loud, no… not because I have a fantasy about that sort of thing… although, hot nanny… but because I wish I had a childhood memory I held dear that didn’t involve loneliness, or being an outcast. The way the boy felt in the movie.

The way I feel now.

Over the previous bunch of months, in both my poetry and my blog posts, I’ve been telling the folks who read me that I was changing my life.  Changing it for the good.  Cutting the ties that held me to the old life…the job and other questionable choices… and I did.  Except, I realize, that the one thing I brought with me in all the changes, that I have not yet changed, is me.

So now, after all the changes, it is time for me to change me.

Changes begin the moment the first one happens, like eating six tacos from Del Taco, or stumbling upon a movie you wished you’d lived, decades before.  There’s a part in the movie where the boy and his nanny talk about past choices… hers… and the possibilities for the future.  And since I’ve already lived my past, it all made me think what those possibilities will be.  And to be truthful, I don’t know what they are yet.  But I know now that they aren’t as far off as I once thought they were.  They are as close as a story I wished I’d lived.  They are as close as six tacos from Del Taco.

They are here. 

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Baby Face Chinaski

baby fade chinaski

I don’t have time for your shit,

you post-pubescent misanthrope. 

Once upon a time,

when your ironic alter-ego roamed the streets,

and haunted the bars of dirty L.A.

like a piss-stained ghost,

you were yet a regret in your

bitch of a mother’s misbegotten womb. 

Although I don’t think I blame her

for how you turned out,

given how you beg for the teat

in every Facebook post of yours

I have ever read. 

Maybe I’ll listen to you

when you can grow a mustache

thicker than a row of pubes. 

Until then,

I will simply shake my head,

and comment less and less,

because the only two things you are listening to

in these last days of your misspent youth

are your own mewling laments of growing up too fast,

and the hollow sympathies of girls your own age,

who would sooner court the clap

than give you what you think will make it all better

for just one night,

before the sun rises in your sunken child-eyes,

and you post online once more.         

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday