» Radiation tri-blade » I saw my chemo doctor today .. for the last time. "You look fantastic. So it looks like we're done. I dont need to see you anymore. There's no more that I can do for you. You still have two doctors who will be watching you closely. And they have the scopes."

No More Chemo Doctor (7 Months Out)

I was surprisingly sad .. for such a happy occasion. Maybe I just wasnt ready for it.

I called cousin Patty when I got out of there and told her the news. "They should tell you the visit before," I said, "that next time might be our last meeting if all goes well."

I mean, for them, it must become just a job .. when you see so many people and do so much of it. And they have pretty much said as much.

But for the patient (uh, like me) it is literally a matter of life-n-death. So they become to you someone special .. something very special.

And my emotions have been all over the map these last several months .. and now (late at night) I am feeling soo happy.

Because I realized that » I NO LONGER HAVE A CHEMO DOCTOR. And more importantly » what that means.

I mean, I was saying to myself over and over » "I dont have a chemo doctor. I dont have a chemo doctor. I dont have ..."

Almost as if it were too wonderful and fantastic for me to fully comprehend.

And I literlly did that "Yes!" arm-flex thing that the kid does in Home Alone when he trick-fucks the two mangy bandits with booby traps.

There is head-warp, mind-torque feeling to it. I mean, it kinda means that I am now a different person. In rather significants ways.

And I can feel myself adjusting inside and adapting.

So, my chemo doctor said that these two other doctors are going to continue to keep an eye on me.

"But you're my favorite," I said.

And I do trust her. I do feel safe with her. That is huge.

But medical companies do not pay for an oncologist to see you just because you like them.

I can still feel the impact of the realization hitting me.

And as circumstances would have it .. after the chemo doctor's nurse walks me out to the main lobby via a way that I had never before taken .. in order to avoid an emergency response situation blocking the normal route.

.. standing there is one of the dudes who I saw daily for 2 months straight while I was receiving radiation treatment .. with fantastic doses of radiation to my neck and throat.

Main lobby | Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla

He was probably the main one. There were a total of 7 people (4 girls and 3 guys) who set me up for each, daily radiation shot .. but he was probably there the most.

And the relationships that you develop with these operators who run the multi-million dollar radiation machines .. because you are there so often for so long .. it's truly a challenge to describe.

Because they are good at what they do. And making you feel comfortable is part of that. And this is very scary shit for the patient. And they know that.

And I would so very much enjoy these little daily rendezvouses with these people .. that is how good they were.

There are always at least two of them setting you up on the table, literally locking down your face, so it doesnt move. (At all.) And usually a third doing other things somewhere round about, but not hands-on .. like the other two.

And I took great note of the way the chemistry in the room would change from when there were two guys (one on each side of me) .. to a guy and a girl .. and finally two girls.

And I could go into great detail here, but I will spare you the ramblings of a madman on chemotherapy and getting blasted daily by monster doses of radiation.

But my point is that .. of ALL the many meaningful relationships that you develop at Moores .. and yes, there are many excellent ones .. of all of them, the ones that you develop with these radiation-machine operators .. these relationships are the most intimate, by far.

For reasons which I could elaborate on ad nauseum .. but I wont. And not because I wouldnt enjoy it.

But they literally strap you down to a table and close a huge metal door behind you .. the size of a freaking bank-vault door .. I shit you not. So that you are the only one in the room.

You are the only living biological matter in that room .. due to the fantastic doses of radiation coming out of this machine.

You will never see any flies flying around inside one of these radiation-accelerator rooms. No, sir. Never. Fly-strips not needed. Feel me? Even the cockroaches somehow know to stay away. Just you.

And this multi-million dollar machine is pointing RIGHT AT YOU. Right at your throat, in fact. Your neck.

And the actual shots last only 3 minutes, but it probably takes them 10 to set you up. And there is this rather annoying alarm-sounding noise during the actual shot. So it is not the easiest thing to relax .. during those 3 minutes. Even if they are piping in to you some Ray Charles Georgia on my mind.

And you spend both Christmas eve and New Years eve with these people. They are literally there for you.

And you never really know which ones you are gonna have any given day. They change things up and move around from machine to machine.

There was one girl in particular that I really liked. Tho I probably shouldnt say any more. But you know, the patient is in a very vulnerable place. And she had that sparkly thing going off all around her. Or maybe it was just my vulnerability reaching out to something compassionate that I saw in her.

I was pretty wowwed by the level of intimacy and trust that I was able to develop with her .. in a rather short period of time.

The superficial things of life tend to fall away when they strapping in your face to the radiation machine.

I will not say that I was flirting with her .. but I was totally letting my instincts explore the character and the contours and the boundaries of this most unusual of relationships .. which might have involved some flirting. I can assure you that it was 100% natural organic flirting.

And I remember thinking, "Wow, this is a beautiful creature. I did not know that such creatures even existed." Which naturally makes you want to know more. No?

There is a form of flirting which is more about the beauty of the soul behind the voice .. than the sexual appeal presented by the fitness of the body. Tho having both seems better than either one alone .. no?

And your curiosity naturally wonders if the creature is really as beautiful as she seems. So you begin to probe with probing questions and you watch her reactions to your potentially provocative statements.

But most of all, you (closely) watch her eyes .. when she first sees you, and the last eye contact you make before you leave. People can say things with their eyes that they can't say with their mouths. Because it's hard to hide when you genuinely like someone.

Anyway, I've said too much. So I will quit.

» Intimacy

Tho, this might be a good place to address the topic of » intimacy. Writers are supposed to » write what they know, and write what only they can write. So the subject of intimacy might qualify for me here.

Because I am indeed familiar with the subject and have considerable experience exploring all aspects of this terrifying topic. Tho surely, many others have experienced and can write well about the topic. So let me try to add something unique.

Because I used to avoid intimacy .. at all costs. True intimacy .. where you begin to see and become aquainted with the real (flawed) person behind the veil .. beyond the superficial niceties .. which many people have told me that I am very good at.

And yes, there is a risk/reward structure here that you must negotiate .. a rather severe risk/reward structure .. that comes with the proposition of intimacy.

But when you feel icky, yucky, dirty, and flawed inside .. you dont really jump at the idea of letting people past/beyond your well-constructed outer shell.

And it is easy to feel this way if people tell you all your life what a piece of shit you are.

But when you feel like and truly believe that inside resides a creature created by a loving God .. then you are able to bring a confidence to an intimate relationship ..

.. where you can say, "Let me show you what I mean."

Which is much more difficult to do when you feel like inside you are a worthless piece of shit. Because you naturally dont want anybody to how really ugly and fucked up you are inside. This should make sense to anybody.

And sure, much depends on the partner .. on the other end of the relationship. Which is why you are looking for the girl who sparkles. And does that cool thing when she makes eye contact with you.

This has been my experience, anyway. And this is the feeling that I got from this girl .. that she was indeed a beautiful creature, both inside and out .. and she knew it.

And therefore she wasnt threatened by my probings .. quite the opposite. Because a beautiful person will respond beautifully.

So, now I have really said too much.

Today I am » 7 months out.

My blood is still anemic .. having risen to 12.1 from 11.0 three months prior (.. where 13.7 - 17.5 represents the normal band).

There are a bunch of things still low, such as white blood cell count. But they are all moving in the right direction, and none of them concern her (my chemo doctor) enough to need to keep seeing me.

And the clinical trials girl stopped by to give me a hug. There was another excellent relationship. She was easily my MVP. Most Valuable Person.

I even picked up one of these forms that your submit for super-excellent customer service, so to speak.

I told her, "Whatever award they give you, it could not possibly compensate for the gratitude I feel." True that.

I remember her saying when we first met, "We'll be spending a lot of time together over these next several months."

I can look back now and see how I had no clue about what she was talking about at the time. If she sprouted the wings of an angel, I would not be so very surprised.

I remember calling her late at night, a little freaked out about something, and expecting to leave a message on her cell, and her taking the call. Long after business hours are over. You cannot image how comforting that is.

Of all the things I heard today, perhaps the thing that make me feel best .. was when the clinical trials girl told me that ALL patients have trouble putting the weight back one .. and that I'm not the only one.

This represents perhaps my rudest post-treatment realization .. and yes, there are others. [ Such as Biotene becoming a way of life. FedEx just delivered today a package containing over $25 worth of Biotene that I ordered from Drugstore.com. And that's with a 15% discount off of all items. ]

But I thought that, after treatment, I would be packing on the pounds with ease.

I thought my natural appetite would return and cause me eat tons of yummy comidas .. but this has been far from the case.

When treatment was done, I had dropped 30 lbs, frighteningly fast. And afterwards, when they didnt want to see me for a month, I ate when I felt like eating ..

.. and lost another 10 lbs without even realizing that I had lost it. (until I stepped on a scale to check.)

That scared me. Because you cant stay alive if you cant keep the weight from falling off. Not for very long, anyway. (Nobody can.)

So I realized that day that I cant just rely on my appetite .. that I need to make myself eat .. even when I might not feel like it.

It has been a battle. On another topic ...

Dude, I havent been to Moores in two months. They are building like crazy. You used to be able to step out of the main Moores entrance and easily see the Radiation PET/CT building on the hill across the street where I received my radiation shots.

Main lobby | Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla

Now there is a huge 4-level parking structure in the way and they are building a whole separate structure for the new Chemo Infusion center .. which right now is one of the wings at the main Moores building. (To your left in the big photo just above.)

And that is not even including the beautiful new 10-story hospital right around the corner (behind you in the photo, about a football field or two away) .. which is scheduled for completion next year. I can only imagine the views.

I no longer have a chemo doctor.

That whole experience left me a little disoriented .. but I started to feel better after talking to Patty.

I can feel myself processing. (You are reading some of my processing. Probably more than I should be sharing. But I just feel so good right now.)

Speaking of processing identity shifts .. I told my chemo doctor what the girl said about me having the Michael Douglas disease and how slutty that made me feel.

And she was quick to jump. "Absolutely not. It's like pregnacy » it only takes once. It's not a sign of promiscuity. Sometimes I have to sit there with a husband/wife couple and tell them and one is looking at the other like, 'You sleaze-bucket, you'."

No, she did not say 'sleaze-bucket,' but that's what she meant.

And I told her that the radiation doctor said that you could have this virus as a kid, and she said, "No." (And she did not stutter. Or hesitate.)

So she is saying that the only way to get this virus is sexually.

I'm not sure why it makes me feel slutty, because it doesnt change the number of sexual partners I have had. (Nor their quality. Or their moral fabric.)

Want me to count for you? Names? Should I include names? Kiss & tell? I have stories. Let me tell you. Truth is definitely stranger than fiction.

I also saw my surgeon last week and he could not find anything concerning.

He said that I need a PET scan at 1-year point and that he would order it if the radiation doctor did not.

"You have to fight with them sometimes. Nobody likes to fight with them."

Tho I remember my chemo doctor saying, about them shipping me boxes of Ensure .. when I was losing weight like a madman » "I called them up and told them, that if they didnt approve my request, I was going to drive over their and personally kick all their asses."

I exaggerate, sure .. but not much.

She is a Detroit girl. You dont want a Detroit driving over to kick your ass. (Trust me. Detroit girls know how to fight dirty.)

The clinical trials girl said that they have been getting big denials from the insurance companies the last few months. For everybody.

Because my 4-month PET scan identified some areas of concern, which bear watching closely.

They dont think these areas are cancer, but they cant be sure. Usually not such a problem if you catch it early enough. Maybe a little lazer snippage and done.

If you make it 2 years clean, you can still get it back, but your odds fall off precipitiously.

And when your odds of getting a certain cancer fall off precipitiously, this is generally considered a good thing.

Six months is 25% of the way to the precipitious 2-year drop. I am 7 months out, today. With no more chemo doctor. Wow.

"You are still anemic and your white blood cell counts are still low, but your blood is improving and everything is heading in the right direction. And you look fantastic. I never wanna have to see you again. Gimme a hug you cancer-free butterfly."

To be continued? Who knows where the Rad wind blows these days?

Right now it seems to be blowing over to a cup of award-winning coffee .. which I ordered from my old coffee shop in Newport Beach.

Which I ordered for myself as a way to reward myself for successfully passing the first important cancer survivor hurdle. I dont want to take anything for granted now. You know.

And I so badly wanted this to be a special moment .. downright ceremonial. So I am setting up a table and chair outside, out of the hot sun. And it has been 95 degrees here .. for a few days now.

And I like the heat, yes .. the therapeutic dry desert heat. (We are 10 or 12 miles from the coast.)

But dry mouth has been a persistent problem .. and not just for me. But it beats cancer, so you deal with it .. which means learning to wield the Biotene mojo.

Anyway, I doing this big ceremonial 6-month hurdle thing and it is a 95 degree scortcher. And I wasnt ready to begin the ceremony.

When I suddenly got so freaking thirsty and I had no water or Biotene handy. And the only thing I had was the special coffee .. and I thought, "Fuck! It's ruined." My ceremony is ruined .. because my mouth is so dry here in the hot desert air .. which sucks the moisture right out through your skin.

But then, when I tasted it [ I took as small a sip as possible .. in order to preserve as much of the future ceremony as possible. I was actually preoccupied with this other thing. ] and I said » "Oh my God! .. that *is* good!"

Even with my well-chemo'ed and irradiated tastebuds I could still taste the lusciousness, and I was glad that I had ordered it. And that was the start of my celebratory 6-month cancer survivor ceremony.

There was a reason why I wanted to share that award-winning coffee story with you .. tho now I am tired and I forget why.

If it was important, it will come back to me. Blame it on the chemo.

Full moon coming in a few more days. Last one of the summer. Howling time cometh. Along with Lawrence Lessig. I wonder what Obama thinks of him.

» Screening Angelina's Calls

Here is something that I want to share with you .. a column by this Aussie chick named Julia, titled » Was it Cancer? Getting the Diagnosis.

I am totally feeling her. When I read this following paragraph, I started laughing and then crying .. at the same time .. as I continued to read.

What the fuck? I dont think I've ever done that before.

The voice in my head saying, "Dude, how can you be laughing and crying at the same time? One or the other, please. You're kinda freakin' me out. And there is snot running down your nose. I hope nobody sees you like this. You are a mess." (I told you that my emotions have been all over the place.)

See here for Julia's paragraph »

» The operation lasted five hours. The mass was fully removed, but it was far more complicated than anyone expected. I was in intensive care for eight days, in a tangle of wires, beeping machines, with drains in my lungs and my liver. I was so drugged I was hallucinating — Donna Summer was doing water aerobics in the hall outside, Angelina Jolie kept trying to call me (I screened her), a reggae musician sat mute on the end of my bed, my older brother had three heads, one of my feet kept catching fire, and it rained periodically around my bed.

Now I am exhausted from crying. You are crying hard when you are wiping both tears-n-snot together in a single wipe. Probably some sweat there, too.

Notice how she brought up Angelina. All cancer-people are sweet on Angelina. Cuz she knows. Angelina has been there. On both sides of the cancer fence.

So it actually doesnt surprise me that she is screening imaginary calls from Angelina. (Cuz I was screening her calls, too.)

And notice that Julia was also very active, physically. Is this part of a pattern?

Her column reminded me of an email that I received recently from my brother (.. when I had no voice) .. that said he & dad had found mom (years ago) walking in the freezing cold over a bridge wearing nothing but her flimsy hospital gown ..

.. such were there strength of the steroids that they were giving her for brain/lung cancer. She had literally lost her mind. (And mom was big on the mind.)

I liked Julia's piece so much that I actually dropped links to it in the section where I talk about Carter's cancer diagnosis. (You cannot possibly know what a compliment that represents.)

I know WHY I was laughing .. but, I can feel myself trying to figure out why I was crying. (Which is why it was freaking me out.) I dont mind crying .. but I just like to know why.

Are there two parts of me? One laughing and one crying? That's kinda how it feels. Am I fragmenting? Did treatment fragment my personality?

Tho it is good that I am feeling things. This way you can process the krap that comes with treatment and the existential trauma that fucks with your head.

I was writing earlier in this entry about the subject of » intimacy. And a part of intimacy .. and probably a big part .. and maybe even a major part .. comes from the feeling that »

  1. you 'get' the other person.
  2. they get you.

It's kinda like the relationship is starting at second base. Is not the worse thing in a relationship .. when you feel like the other person knows nothing about you?

I know only about this girl what I read here .. but I feel like I 'get' her. And I've never even been to Australia.

Tho I know that Australian guys are no-shit tough .. and if you get in a fight and you have two Australian guys on your side, you probably wont even get dirty.

You can actually glean much insight into a person from their writing. And I caught myself analyzing both her style and her content.

And she talks about prayer, which is a very intimate thing. And when I got to the part where she writes about praying hard, I could hear the voice of an old pastor say, "It's not how hard or long you pray or how long you cry, but rather praying in faith .. that God acts on .. that moves the hand of God."

And since she got results (.. the calm amid the storm) .. that tells me that she prayed in faith.

Tho, I should say that .. believing something .. before you have any physical supporting evidence .. that is not as easy as it sounds.

Anyway, I think I am just going to put on my pajamas and vape a hit of this Presidential-grade stuff that I was saving to share with Obama. (Down at Big Corona, of course .. after we see Snowden's next movie together.)

I am kinda useless for much else, right now. (Thanks to Julia.)

[ Dude, you should take some of this Alaskan Thunder Fuck with you when you go there. How cool would that be. Oh, it looks like you're already there. No wonder you're extending your stay. ]

Anna Karenina came today from Netflix .. something I have been wanting to see for a long time.

I saw Fury last night. What an amazing movie. Far exceeded my expectations. Certified Fresh.

It made me realize how much I miss life with the boys .. in that all-male environment. The movie portrays it remarkably well. Well enough to make me miss it.

The acting was impressive. No-shit impressive. The casting her really stuff out to me. Whoever did the casting .. I would hire them to cast my next film. The character selection was outstanding.

And what a story. The arc-of-character of the kid was bent as only war can bend.

The way they fuck with this young kid .. reminded me of how the guys fucked with me when I was a punk-kid myself. This kid .. who later becomes "The Machine."

"I hereby christen you The Machine."

And right at the very beginning of the movie, one of the tank guys (nicknamed Bible) asks him, "Are you saved?"

And the kid responds, "I've been baptised, yeah."

And the bad dude jumps in and says, "No, no, no .. that's not what he asked you."

So you can tell that they have been having these scriptural discussions in the tank. These debates. Because that is where I first heard them myself. (In the military. Long story.)

They even quote a verse from Isaiah .. that I have used myself .. in talking about becoming the voice of your generation.

Tho I have since looked more closely at what comes before that verse .. and what comes after.

So the movie struck me as very authentic .. in that, and many other respects .. knowing what I know about the all-male environment. (Which is a lot.)

I mean, I could go on and on ad nauseum.

Am I reading right that Fury was nominated for no Oscars? I must be missing something.

Anyway, you must admit that Angelina has been good for Brad .. in more ways that just his professional career.

» Radiation tri-blade » Every August 1st for the last few years I have attempted an entry that challenged me. That I might be afraid to attempt. Or at least, something that contained an element of fear. Something of a one-time-only venture .. never to be addressed again. Once-n-done.

Periodic Personal & Artistic Challenges

And these types of things will present themselves .. if you welcome them and embrace them.

And what kind of writer is not open to, or does not embrace challenging new experiences?

Perhaps one with a good imagination?

But the problem with imagination .. is that it's limited (.. to your imagination). Or is it?

Anyway, it is exhausting to really challenge yourself .. because there is an element of wringing-out-your-soul.

So you need a breather or two in between. I figure that you can only do these types of things maybe twice a year, max ..

.. which for me seems to be during the heights of summer and during the depths of winter.

Seems natural enough, no?

Anyway .. this year, after treatment, the thought of my traditional August 1st entry .. passed thru my mind. But I let it pass right on thru.

The thought there being something like » "Dude, you are obviously in no kind of shape to be doing any kind of August 1st entry. Even when you are in good shape, you know how those things kick your ass. We will go outside and read a little Proust and take it easy. Your surgeon says that you are on 2-years double top-secret probation with this cancer thing. So go easy for two years. Let's watch a little Netflix."

But I never really know how the writing thing is gonna go. And right now I'm kinda playing over here in this Prousty area. Experimenting. And Proust is very much about » involuntary memory. (More.)

And sometimes the writing takes you .. and sometimes it doesnt. (Which is fine by me .. cuz I can use the rest.)

So it got to be late and I started thinking, "Good .. it looks like I am not going to be doing another August 1st entry this year. Great. Smart move. I am so proud of you .. for exercising such restraint. Tho, I must admit that, uh, I am a little surprised, sure. Because sometimes it just feels good to sink your writing teeth into a juicy writing bone and grind away at it. In a Bukowski sort of way. But I am proud of you, nonetheless."

It was not 30 minutes later when the writing locomotive arrived. All aboard. "You might wanna hold on. This might get a little bumpy."

Matt Damon says the same thing to the girl sitting beside him in one of the Bourne movies .. right before he drives the car down a long stairway. I loved that scene. Understatement. He kinda glances innocently at her seatbelt, concealing his concern.

I will tell you all about the writing express later. But for now I do indeed have an August 1st entry for you .. except that it was posted on July 27 .. a few days ago .. as an extraction from an earlier entry. Which was itself an extraction from an earlier entry. Which itself ... (I can feel myself waxing experimental.)

I did not know at the time that this was going to be my August 1st entry. So I feel like I tricked myself into it. If that makes sense.

See here (it's still kinda rough) » Lance & Egan and Those Now Famous Fastballs.

And there are already sections there to lift-n-move to even further entries.

Regarding that entry that I am working on .. that I started working on a few days ago .. before I knew it would become my August 1st entry ..

.. I will tell you that I was impressed by that movie » Boyhood, which I saw a few weeks back.

But it's like something powerful hit me .. and I'm not even sure what it was. But I know that it is about life in general, and growing up and becoming a man. And the things that can happen to fuck you up while you are doing that.

The film's title is Boyhood because that is where they focus the story. Ages 6 to 18, I think.

When you read that entry, you can see the effect that the movie had on me. What was churned up.

And I have also been drawn to Proust .. which starts with Swann's Way .. which is about » Childhood (Boyhood, just like the movie). The childhood of a sensitive, observant boy.

One of the ways that I feel like I resonate with Proust .. to the greatest degree, maybe .. can be found in the following passage pulled from the wikipedia entry for the 7-volume In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927).

Proust established the structure early on, but even after volumes were initially finished he kept adding new material and edited one volume after another for publication. The last three of the seven volumes contain oversights and fragmentary or unpolished passages as they existed in draft form at the death of the author.

Because I know (from experience) that the REASON the writer does this (.. beyond mere grammatical editing) is because (drum-roll, pls) » one thought often leads to another.

And it is often the secondary thoughts that contains the cool details that can really bring a thing to life.

And these connected thoughts are very similar to how the brain itself is arranged, with its many zillions of neurons (brain nerve cells) connected in ever increasingly complex circuits (groups).

You would have never discovered this most excellent of villages in which you now find yourself .. had you not first eplored the one next door.

Proust wrote himself to death. At 51. I guess there are worse ways to go.

He started writing the first book sometime around 1909, and wrote like a madman til he died in '22.

I will have to go back and double check .. but I think that I read that he hardly said anything about World War I. How can that be?

Or does this simply speak to the degree of his isolation?

I mean, I very much include the zeitgeist in my writing » "Big Brother has his NSA probe up the people's asses in clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. This shit does not look right to me. And besides, it makes my butt tingle."

So I cannot see how a writer could omit mentioning a war. Does not compute, Will Robinson.

Did you know that Proust slept during the day and wrote at night? In Paris. In French. In a cork-lined room .. due to his asthma. A room from which he ventured only rarely. Tree and flower pollen affected him severely.

How cool would it be to read a little Proust while staying at a cork-lined room in Paris? Or any room in Paris.

One of the more eyebrow raising comments that I read from a reviewer was »

But one cannot shake the feeling that In Search of Lost Time is the ultimate written work about what it means to live. Existence iself, in all its forms (time, love, beauty, self, and the other) is the subject Proust holds forth on.

That definitely got my attention.

» The Craziest Thing (Proust's Writing)

I remember seeing the stack on books sitting on the nightstand beside the Dog's low-profile unmade bed ..

.. during one of the long weekends that I spent with him up in the hills above Hollywood (.. mere walking distance from the famous sign).

And when I got to Swann's Way, I read a little and asked, "What's this one about, Dog?"

And he said (something like) "This guy just writes whatever comes into his head. It's a long book .. 3,000 pages. That's just one of the volumes."

"Whatever comes into his head?" I said. "That's the craziest thing I've ever heard."

He laughed. "Yeah, that's what I thought, too," he said. "But I actually find it strangely comforting."

I didnt say anything but thought, "Well, I dont see how that could be."

(This was after the Dog had been to Columbia and got his masters at USC.)

Perhaps I should share the first few lines of this famous work. See here »

For a long time, I went to bed early. Sometimes, my candle scarely out, my eyes would close so quickly that I did not have time to say to myself: "I'm falling asleep." And, half an hour later, the thought that it was time to try to sleep would wake me; I wanted to put down the book I thought I still had in my hands and blow out my light; I had not ceased while sleeping to form reflections on what I had just read, but these reflections had taken a rather peculiar turn; it seemed to me that I myself was what the book was talking about...

And on it goes .. for 3,000 pages. Which makes him one thoughtful dude, no? Certainly long-winded, literarily speaking.

I am only becoming familiar with this book .. but I can see already that it is not just a mish-mash of random thoughts .. like the Dog's comment sugested. No, sir.

Rather, there is a structure to it .. a structure so elegant and ingenious that it is very simple. Or else it is so simple that is appears elegant and ingenius. And I'm honestly not sure which is the case.

I have noticed before the relationship between ordinary simplicity and fantastic complexity. And the more you have fanstastic complexity that you (your story) has .. the more ordinary simplicity you must ground that story in.

So one sorta lets you explore further the other .. almost like a giant with one foot in each realm. If he wants to take his story to more distant and fantastic lands, then he needs to root the foot of ordinary simplicity more firmly and securely.

And Proust is going to take you on a fantastic voyage, so he wants to root you in the ordinary simplicity of life.

I mean, I catch myself marvelling at his structure. And yes, I can see why the Dog said what he said .. but I can also see how I misunderstood him.

» I Shall Not Die, But Live (As a Cancer Survivor)

But really .. regarding August 1st, or any other date for that matter .. I am just glad to be alive (and cancer-free). I do indeed like to challenge myself from time to time, sure ..

.. but I like to be alive even better.

I will tell you, tho .. the notion of 'cancer-survivor' as another category of who I am. That is a process.

I mean, for the longest time, you are not really sure if you will live or die. And the treatment comes at you so fast and furiously that you dont have a chance to process all this info.

You are just reacting and trying to make it to your next chemo appointment or your next radiation shoot or your next clinical trial appointment. It is a whirl-wind.

Sometimes I was up before 4 to shower and grab a bite to get my ride at 5:30 .. and be gone all day until long past dark.

Tho the weekly sessions with my shrink were a welcome respite. I went to those even when I couldnt talk. (So I whispered for an hour.)

But today I caught myself actually wearing the label of Cancer Survivor .. and the head-torque that accompanied it.

After jail and cancer, you just sorta crave peace-n-quiet for a while.

The Six-Month Hurdle » The Cancer Survivor's First Hurdle

I see both my surgeon and my chemo doctor later this month. The six-month hurdle. I may have to step over, instead of jump over .. but I will get over it.

I am sorta on a 2-year track of hurdles that I need to get over. And my neck/throat is definitely feeling the effects of scar tissue. So it kinda talks to you.

Probably not so terribly differently from that experienced by a man who survived a hanging and lived to tell about it .. I would imagine.

Not long ago I tested myself, physically, by doing more than my body wanted. I wanted to see how it responded.

Ooh, dude .. it did not like that shit one bit .. let me tell you. It has been talking to me for a few days now. And it is saying mean, angry things to me. And even threatening to retaliate.

I pushed it too hard. And I am often reminded in various unpleasant ways. (Aches-n-pains.)

Soo .. I am nowhere near where I was hoping to be six months out. But I am just starting to put on a little weight. Tho it is hard work.

I have been feeling so bad for so long that I just want to feel normal again. So it gets a little frustrating sometimes .. like now, for example. When only a moderate amount of physical exertion kicks your ass for a few days.

Patience is a virtue, I know.

The best part is that I'm starting to regain a little muscle in my arms. I can feel it. It feels good. I think, maybe, because I have been hitting the protein so hard.

But if I drink only the protein and have no carbs, it makes me feel antsy. Tho once I eat some carbs, that antsiness goes away. (And a bowl of Haagen Dazs works just as well.)

So I am just noticing now the very beginnings of a return of muscle definition. Ooh, baby .. I can see now that the chicks are totally gonna be hot for my cancer-surviving ass. Eat your heart out, Michael Douglas.

But stamina is the real issue. Stamina especially in terms of recovery times.

If I ever tried one of my old work-outs now, it would take me months to recover from the exertion.

I dated this muscle chick for a while .. who would throttle carbs in preparation for a competition. (Yeah, she was hardcore Had the boob-job and multiple plastics and everything.)

And she was very interesting to be with during these times when she would "cut" .. because she knew that it made her waay agro, but she dealt with it .. tho it brought out a more 'real' part of her.

More immediate. More guy-like. More aggressive. More confrontational. More bitchy, yes, tho she did not know me well enough to be very bitchy.

And I met her in a church, so she must be kind and loving and compassionate and all those other christian values.

But she was like a whole 'nuther person. A different personality. And I am thinking, "This girl brings multiple personalities to the relationship. It will be fun getting to know them all."

But I still must MAKE myself eat. I never really feel hungry. I just get spacey .. then, after I eat, the spaciness goes away. So I figure that I needed to eat.

» Personally Challenging Writing Criteria

Remind me to tell you about the criteria that I use for these personally challenging entries. An intuitive thing. But something revelatory is part of that criteria. Because that is so difficult (for me).

But the main thing is to attempt to » go beyond .. what you have done before. So you need to challenge yourself in some new area. Or some new way.

And new things often come with a fear-of-the-unknown .. but another important aspect of these types of extries is to find something that you are reouctant to even attempt .. for whatever reason. So I look for the biggest source of opposition and reluctant.

I will not necessarily choose my biggest fear, but I will take a hard look at it. (Girls scare me .. to a degree. In an unpredictable alien sort of way.) But the more challenging and difficult something is to write about, the more of a candidate that topic becomes.

And it should be something that you and only you could write .. to the degree that this is possible. Which would naturally include something that you know about and know about well. (Write what you know. Even if you have to learn something new.)

Because I sometimes feel intuitively that there are certain things that a writer can't write .. before and until he writes something else. So you always want to stretching yourself and your skills and pushing back the limits of those things that you can write about. Become an expert in all things.

And like all entries, it must feel right.

Another aspect that I can feel myself embracing .. is writing something that speaks by its very existence. I mean, the very fact that such a document actually exists .. says something.

Now, of course, this will probably say different things to different people. Up until the point where you bring a 400-pound gorilla into the room .. you can safely deny its existence. But then you must deal with the situation .. or suffer the consequences.

I may elaborate more on this aspect in the future .. because I am not so clear on it myself .. tho I can feel myself moving in that direction.

Something that I am clear on .. is to make part of my topic criteria .. something that I must write about before I can write about other things.

The gateway, so to speak. The launch platform to even more distant galaxies of thought and ideas.

In math, they dont teach you multipliction and division until after you have first mastered addition and subtraction. They dont teach you algebra until after you have first mastered multiplication and division.

Because one is a prerequisite for the other. I am talking about exploring and writing the prereq's .. so that you can write even further down the road of ideas and experiences.

I mean, I could not very well talk about writers until until I have first talked about writing. That sort of thing. Adding another lego link to the thing that you are building.

And yes, this is very intuitive. And sometimes you dont see the reaon why you are writing something until much later. And then you are glad that you followed your instincts.

If you study the design and architecture of the Unix vs Windows philosophies .. you will see that my style of writing more closely follows the Unix architecture design philosophy. Windows being more monolithic.

» Past August 1st Throw-Downs

Two years ago I did the 4-pager on Not Talking About Writing, which was really talking about writing (how clever of me) .. something that I happen to know a little about.

And last year I was Flirting with a pretty girl .. in the digital age. Something that I happen to know a LOT about.

Which I never did really finish. It just kinda went on f.o.r.e.v.e.r. I am still flirting with her.

Even after she abandoned me in my hour of need. [ « Notice effective use of Catholic-grade guilt-trip. ]

And today I was feeling very sexual, so my ego is convinced that she was secretly thinking of me in a very special sort of way. Talk about quantum entanglement.

I want to ask her what she thought about Rattner's column on the 31st. Actually, there are a few other things that I'd like to ask her about. Including this.

Not so much with the Flirting entry, which was really a lot of fun, and which I used to distract myself from the ever-growing lump in my neck, which was so big that shaving was like a skiier skiing over a big bump (catch air) ..

.. but normally my topics contain an aspect of letters to myself .. if I were to come behind me .. what would I really like to know. What absurdity of life can I most readily help validate for a younger version of myself.

This is not so much a conscious thought .. but I can feel it at play in the background. And the message is roughly this »

"We here in the future are sending you a verifiable message, which is this » the future is worse than you think. Much worse, actually, But we kinda got a handle on it. Yet we need some smart, crafty fuckers who are well educated to craft for us some better algorithms. So study up, boys."

So what could possibly top those two entries?

But it is now only 9:37 PM and I have an official August 1st entry posted live. (Sometimes I just change the date to go back, which is kinda like cheating.)

But this will be interesting .. because I simply do not have the physical wherewithall to attempt an August 1st type of entry. No matter how much coffee I might drink. So it will have to come from some other place.

Did you see the blue moon last night? The next one isnt until January, 2018.

I see all my doctors this month. I did not see a single one last month, July. I loved that.

After the existential threat that is cancer, I find that my priorities have shifted. Some of the things that used to important no longer seems so important.

And other things that used to not be so important now seem much more so. And this cannot but affect my writing. Because your writing naturally follows your interests. Your curiosities. Your attention.

Hemingway is famous for saying that you judge the quality of a book by what is omitted. By what is thrown in the trash. But of course, you and I are forced to do this by judging the quality of what is left in. No?

Did you notice on Proust's (1871-1922) wikipedia page that it says he was » "considered by many to be one of the greatest authors of all time." ?

Notice in particular the phrase » "of all time". Because "all time" is a long time. A loooong ass time.

Yet I noticed his name included there on the list of the 100 Greatest Books of All Time in Any Language. The list of the ages. So maybe the wikipedia page isnt such an exaggeration.

Which lends credibility to the statement contained on the inside flap of my hard-cover copy of Swann's Way (the 2003 translation by Lydia). [ Deckle-edge paperback here ] which calls In Search of Lost Time » "arguably the finest novel of the twentieth century."

But Proust really goes back to Stendhal (1783-1842) who was really the bigger stud, historically speaking, and whose name also appears on that list.

But their approach to writing is much the same. They basically observe people and tell you what they observe.

Of course, the trick is in selecting the people and in your ability to have access to interesting people.

And if these people happen to be doing nasty shit, then it is only your duty to posterity and the historical record of our species to record it so the fuckers may be accurately judged by the gods of future centuries.

But that is kinda what they do. There are a bunch of all-time greats that trace their lineage back to Stendhal. Including Dostoevsky.

There might be someone before him that I dont know about .. but I think that he was the seminal type-setter for that particular style and approach to writing. That makes him a very bad dude.

to be cont'd ...