Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer Break

Just a quick post to let you all know that I'm going on summer hiatus for a few weeks starting today.  I have friends coming to visit which I'm really looking forward to.

So it's time to take a break, catch my breath, relax, enjoy the summer and go and have some fun.

Yes "fun", something that's been in short supply of late!

I'll be back soon to the blogging with attitude, and will still be lurking in the cyber-hood.

Before I forget, you have two homework tasks for June:

1.  Tell us about your "Other Life" for Journeying Beyond Breast it, tweet it (cc to @jbbc), comment on JBBC's blog, or send her an email at  She'll be publishing snapshots of our wonderful community after June 30, so you still have plenty of time.

2.  Are you a poet and you just don't know it?  Don't forget to submit your entry to the Pink Ribbon Blues Poetry Jam.  And prizes will be awarded, plus fame and glory when your entry is published on the Pink Ribbon Blues blog.  Entries close June 30!

Back soon!

Blog mascot is ready for summer vacation as well!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Re: My Other Life

Today I'm veering off the beaten track of databased rants, railing against all things breast cancer and general pink cultural disruptiveness, in favor of a writing assignment set by Marie, author of the excellent Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer blog.

So this one's about My Other Life.  You know,  that life outside of breast cancer.

Let's start at the beginning shall we?  I was born in 1970 in Perth, the capital city of Western Australia.  Australia's a bloody big country and Western Australia is about the size of Texas, with a population of a little over two million people.


A recently discovered photo of me and
my naughty little sister,  circa 1976
I'm the eldest of three children, two girls and a boy.  My younger sister  Tarn, epitomized the protagonist, from the "My Naughty Little Sister" series by Dorothy Edwards, and was my beloved nemesis growing up.  We were three years apart in age, and what strikes me looking back at old photos, is that we were always photographed together.  Even though we were constantly fighting  and jostling for attention, it's always me and her together.   Truthfully,  as we got older we drifted apart.  We were very different people and she led quite a troubled life.  Tragically she passed away in June 2007 at the age thirty-four.  I don't think I'll ever really get over losing her.  She was a part of me.

My really cute Granny
with baby brother circa1976
My younger brother now lives in the U.K. We see and talk to each other often.  I adore him and love nothing better than just hanging out and talking about ridiculous things like Australian politics, ghosts, aliens, cryptozoology, annoying people and anything else that takes our fancy.  He likes the odd rant too.  Although he's now 35 years old, I still think of him as four years old. And treat him as such.

My Dad's a character.  He's an old Communist from way back who's living out his retirement in the tropics learning advanced Russian, and harboring dreams of a visit to North Korea at some point before he dies.  He also enjoys a good rant any day of the week.

Ranting?  Does that sound familiar.  Yes, along with the BRCA1+ gene,  the ranting gene is endemic in our family.  My Grandfather also had the gift of the rant.  As children, when we visited we knew to avoid certain trigger words.  Like "hello", "How are you", "It's a nice day". Lest we be subjected to professional ranting, the likes of which I can only aspire to.

My Dad in 1976.  At work. He was a
soil technologist and was averse to T-shirts!
Growing up in Australia was great.  I highly recommend it for any child.  I don't really remember ever being indoors, and a family holiday for us was a three-day drive in the old family Kingswood, sleeping in the car on the side of the road, and then pitching tents in some isolated National Park somewhere.  If it had running water and plumbing of any sort, well that was just not getting away from it as far as my father was concerned.  He liked to 'rough it, translation; "here's the toilet paper, now go behind the bush", or "make sure you zip the tent up so snakes can't get in", or "showers are for wimps, as are sunglasses" or "don't worry about the crocodiles, they're freshwater so they're not interested in eating you, now go for a bloody swim".

Typical Aussie backyard.  Hills Hoist, woodpile and outhouse!
We also had indoor plumbing.  Circa 1976

But all these holidays instilled in me a lifelong love of adventure and travel.  In my late twenties, I packed up my life in a backpack and went to London for what was supposed to be year-long European working vacation.  Well that was 1999 and I never went back.  I lived in the U.K for three years, met my beloved and then moved to the U.S. for graduate school and the bright lights of New York City.  Now I'm happily settled in New Jersey (who knew???), but I still love to just get away from it all when I can.

Travel holds a special place in my heart and is something that I think my soul requires.  I've been very fortunate to have had the means and opportunity for most of my adult life, and I think I might have been a migratory bird in a past life.  Too bad that my wings have been clipped during this last year thanks to that thing I'm not going to mention in this post, but I still amuse myself with thoughts of the next great trip and memories of trips past.

My favorite countries would have to be Egypt and Italy, although I was very taken with Oman as well.  But I'm also quite interested in seeing more of the U.S. since I live here now and am practically a citizen.  I loved Maine, and Colorado holds something special for me, and I have to say I do love the Florida Keys and those conch fritters.  Still want to get to New Mexico and see Montana and Wyoming whilst I'm at it.  The Scottish Highlands and islands are up there too.

So today I'm remembering my love of travel, and the spirit of adventure and impulsiveness that I think are some of my character trademarks.  Here's a slideshow of snapshots from some of my memorable trips starting from 1999 through to 2010.

It seems the only appropriate way to finish this post is to ask a question.

Where to next? So long as it doesn't involve doctors, waiting rooms, hospitals or chemotherapy, I'm game!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Poetry of Stench

In the 1970's Susan Sontag, in her tome Illness As A Metaphor, wrote;

"Cancer is a rare and still scandalous subject for poetry; and it seems unimaginable to aestheticize the disease."

Ponder on that for a second.

Well readers, with the promotion of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®'s new perfume line "Promise Me", I think there can be no doubt that breast cancer has indeed been fully a bottle.

Add in the perfume designer's commentary.....

... and I think we can safely say that breast cancer and poetry also mix.

Last week, Nancy Brinker appeared on HSN, the Home Shopping Network, to sell this latest pink breast cancerish incarnation.  Here's the video.  All mind-numbing fifteen minutes of it.  Watch it and delight in statements like;

" the woman that wears this...she is constantly kind of intact..........(Editors Note: hastily adds and tapers off)....with that emotional feeling...."

Once again, Komen's timing couldn't have been more perfect when I think about what I was doing whilst Nancy Brinker was hawking cheap perfume that smells just "like you imagine pink to smell".

Whilst people were falling all over themselves to buy Nancy's boxed set for the bargain price of $39.90, I was in the emergency room of PinkBank Hospital being treated for a small, but very frightening, pneumothorax.   I couldn't smell much  because I was hooked up to oxygen all night whilst I spent the night in the ER.  The lady in the room next to me, six years out of a breast cancer diagnosis, was being investigated for possible brain metastases after dropping a knife whilst preparing dinner.

By the time my ordeal was over some 24-hours later,  all I could taste and smell was antiseptic, saline and that radioactive crap they pump into you in order to take a CAT scan.  Too bad I wasn't wearing Komen's fragrant version of breast cancer because instead my experience could have smelt like this;

Floriental and sensual no less!

There were only two good things that came out of my emergency room visit last week. First, my pneumothorax was not caused by lung mets, and second, I got to visit with Dr Cuteness again.  (Beloved wanted me to push the friendship agenda again, but I declined,  preferring to keep our relationship strictly curative......of spontaneous cardiac-thoracic issues, that is).

And the only good thing to come out of Komen's latest smelly business venture is that it serves to highlight just how stupid Komen obviously perceives "us" to be.

A fragrance designed to invoke the feelings of positive hope, energy and love to help Komen's branded breast cancer cause?

No Nancy, we've got your number.  It's at the bottom of the tv screen.

P.S.  I typed this blog-post with one-hand, because the tumors in my left brachial plexus make typing with two hands a very painful exercise right now.  I'm hoping a course of radiation will help bring me some relief on that score.  And there's nothing about that which reminds me of the scent of pink peonies, wild orchids or rosewoods!