She said that this particular isotope has a half-life of 90 minutes. That means I am still radioactive. Rad writes while radioactive .. can you dig it? (Do you feel that there is anything recursive about me writing while radioactive? Because recursion is where the power is .. the power of infinity. A very sexy power.)
Writing While Radioactive » 1 Year Out
I am now 1-year out. The 1-year PET scan has become something of a thing .. lemme tell you.
First, they were going to do it. Then they werent. Then they were again. And then they werent. (They = different doctors.)
PET scans are expensive (~$1,600 ?) compared to CT scans (~$400). So insurers are stingy with PET scans. I have had a shitload of CT scans, but only a few PET scans.
The girl today said, "This dose of radioactive glucose costs five or six hundred dollars itself. We have to order it special from the pharmacy."
When I saw my surgeon last week, he said, "You had some areas that lit up during your 4-month PET scan, such as the base of your tongue. They speculate that these areas lit up due to residual inflammation from the lingering effects of the radiation. But those areas shouldnt be lighting up now that you're a year out."
» The Final Diagnostic Hurdle
So my surgeon said that he was going to try to convince my insurer that it should be approved.
So I was surprised when I received a call 2 days ago from the PET scan people themselves (.. on the exact 1-year anniversary) saying » "You've been approved and we have an opening the day after tomorrow."
So I went from thinking that I wasnt going to get a 1-year PET scan to actually scheduling it .. with a single call.
This is a big deal because .. in my mind, the 1-year PET scan has always represented the final diagnostic hurdle.
» No More Dragging a Carcas on the Ground Behind Me
I was so happy when I learned that the PET scan had been approved and scheduled .. that I felt so good that I went for another WALK.
I mean, the call came on the exact 1-year anniversary .. which is certainly a big deal in and of itself. So, even before the phone call, I was already feeling very good about the day. Very celebratory.
And this was the first time (2 days ago) since treatment that it didnt feel like I was dragging a carcas on the ground behind me.
When you are in good shape, your body feels relatively light. When your legs are feeling strong and your stamina is robust, you have a feeling of lightness. You know what I'm talking about.
I very much appreciate this feeling of lightness .. this feeling of strength .. this feeling of stamina. (Which is why I worked so hard to cultivate it.)
But after treatment, your ass is dragging. You feel heavy. You feel tired. It takes much effort to do even minor activities. You fatigue easily. And once you get fatigued, it takes longer to recover. Much longer. Your ass is dragging longer and harder.
So it's nice to be able to go for a walk, and to feel like you are no longer dragging a carcas on the ground behind you. So nice. The simple pleasures of life.
I am starting to get my shit back .. going on daily walks .. ever since Punkin Pie called and sang to me the Happy Birthday song. A friend said to me today, "You seem to be walking with more of a spring in your step .. with more energy." Plus, I have been out in the sun everyday (walking while it's warm) so I have good color.
I am so happy right now .. for a number of reasons .. some of which I have already outlined here for you. I feel h.a.p.p.y .. all the down to a cellular level. Through and through. Inside and out.
It's not that I feel that much better than I did last month, but rather that I feel so much better about it. It doesnt really make logical sense to me, but I feel like 5 times better than I did last month .. since I have started walking again .. more than the short walks I've been doing. (Where it felt like I had been dragging a carcas on the ground behind me.)
» Cant Put Distance Between You and Cancer Treatment Fast Enough
Treatment sucks so bad .. and represents such a dark place .. that you naturally want to put as much d.i.s.t.a.n.c.e between you and it as possible. But you can't do this fast enough .. not as quickly as you would prefer. No, sir. Not nearly.
You must go slow .. by necessity. It just takes time .. unfortunately. All cancer survivors will tell you the same thing.
I have tried, several times, during this past year, to push myself and stimulate a physical response in order to catapult my body toward higher levels of physical fitness. But each time I have regretted it. Painfully so. After a while, even I get the message.
It's not that I didnt already know this, but I am just now getting glimmers of my old self. Speaking in cellular terms.
It's funny the way good things come in bunches, isnt it? I actually had the thought, "You should try to spread out some of these cool things, so you have something to pick you up during the darker days."
I have noticed, over the years, how, during those times when girls come onto me, or act unusually friendly, that they always seem to come in bunches. Even tho I myself can see no difference, nor do I seem to be acting differently. When it rains, it pours.
So it remains something of a mystery .. yet there you have it. Sometimes they even all have the same name (or similar sounding ones.)
» Been a Long Time Since I had Iron in My Arm
Speaking of girls coming onto me .. let me tell you about this girl who injected me with the radioactive material today. No, she didnt come onto me (.. I wish). She is actually outta my league.
But I appreciate competence. She is obviously smart. She sets an I-V nicely and then pumps the glow-juice straight into your vein and then sets you up on the sliding table and runs the PET scan. She does it all. Soup to nuts. (All while looking good and making it look easy.)
When she came and got me in the waiting room, she told me her name, and she has a rare name .. so rare that I remembered it. No chemo-brain here, my friend. "I saw you a year ago." I said.
"Yeah," she said, "I remember."
» Flirting While Radioactive (He's With Me)
I noticed that she had curled her hair today, and looked extra pretty .. but I didnt say anything. She is a pretty girl .. with easy social skills to go with her impressive technical skill set. I would flirt with her, but I dont feel like I know her well enough.
When I came out of the bathroom, before heading into the PET scan room .. I stepped out into the hallway, and she was talking to another lady down the hall. And the lady called out, "Can I help you?" And the PET scan girl said, "Oh, no .. he's with me."
If I would've known her better, I would've said, "Don't I wish."
I was in a much better mood today than I was the last time I saw her. The last time I saw her, I didnt know how much longer I had to live. So I was scared shitless.
It's difficult to flirt effectively when you are scared shitless and not sure how much longer you have to live.
After setting the I-V, she said, "I'm gonna go get the dose .. I'll be right back." When she left the room, I looked over at the chunk of iron sticking in my arm and studied the nastiness for a few seconds and thought, "Been a long time since I had iron in my arm."
I always look away when they set the I-V. One time, I watched. That was not a smart thing to do.
During cancer treatment, you get many I-V's. Many jabs, pokes and sticks. Both arms, from elbow to wrist, felt like pin-cushions. And that is no exaggeration, my friend. That is not hyperbole. No, sir.
When you arrive for chemo, and after they call your name .. and after they find you a super-cushy chemo-chair, and after your nurse comes over and introduces herself (or himself) to you .. one of the first questions they always ask is, "Which arm did we use last time?"
And then they get to work .. on the other arm .. giving you that nice, balanced stereo effect .. over the course of several months, of course.
» I Can Scan Your Brain, Too .. That's Not a Problem
I noticed that the invoice document [ piece of paper that I signed ] stated that I was scheduled to be scanned » from the "base of skull to thighs" .. which means they werent planning to scan my brain.
"My oncologists at Moores," I told her, "said that, if this type of cancer does spread, one of the places that it spreads to is the brain." [ My mom had a brain tumor and died from it. ]
"PET scans are not the best tests to detect brain tumors," she said. "MRI's are best for that .. but I can go ahead and scan your brain. That's not a problem."
It is not every day that you have a conversation with a pretty, smart girl about radioactive half-lifes and scanning your brain for tumors. So perhaps you can see why I like her.
I feel smarter already. Oh, wait .. the 'P' in PET stands for » positron, not proton. They are not the same. They are actually very different. A proton is a positively-charged neutron, which comes from the nucleus of the atom. Whereas a positron is a positively-charged electron, which does not come from the nucleus, but rather from the orbital energy states. But dont quote me on that, Lauren. My point is that she scanned my brain with something positive .. that makes me feel smarter and happier.
"The results will be to your doctor in 24 to 48 hours," she said.
I firmly believe that I will never have to see her again. And I should have medical confirmation of this in a day or two. (You can be sure that I will be keeping my cell phone right handy.)
» Confession Time (Feeling Ecstatic)
And because I really believe that I will never have to see this girl again .. is why I must confess that I did actually flirt with her a little .. when I said good-bye.
Of course, this was very mild and tame by my flirting standards .. subtle and understated.
So I was surprised to see how positively she responded. But you know how it is when you genuinely appreciate someone .. when you genuinely admire and respect them. On any level. But especially on a level more than physical.
And what might you expect to happen .. when they shoot radioactive material into my veins? Being a radioactive man all my life .. means that it has an effect on me similar to the way a full moon effects a werewolf.
After she hit me with the rad sugar, I said, "Wow, that feels good."
After having you fast from last night, they have you sit in a dimly lit room for 45 minutes .. while the radioactive sugar works its way into your body tissue. Because cancer loves sugar. "Yum," says cancer, "More sugar, please."
» I Must Still Have It
And as I was saying goodbye, I just couldnt help myself (from flirting) because I was just feeling so good .. because I had just gone from thinking that I wasnt even going to get a 1-year PET scan .. to being done with it .. in less than 48 hours.
It was definitely a bit of a head trip. Decent cranial torque applied.
I am not going to tell you exactly how I flirted with her .. but, as I walked out of there, I thought, "Fuck .. I must still have it."
» Those Oregon Girls
And, if you told me that I was going to spend some years on a deserted island somewhere .. and you were going to let me pick the name of the state from which one person would be selected to spend this time with me .. I would pick someone from Oregon.
There are many other reasons I could cite .. not the least of which is that Oregon is a special place for me .. but my point here is that .. this girl is an Oregon girl. And I like Oregon girls.
There have been times in my life when I was attracted to intelligent girls .. and other times when I fancied the athletic-type .. throw in an artist here-n-there .. but, at the end of the day, if you are going to be spending some years on a deserted island with someone .. you want somebody with whom you can simply be yourself. No? (Another tropical sunset in paradise.)
And that's an Oregon girl. Do your own research and I'm confident you will concur.
To be continued later .. when I am no longer radioactive.
In the military and commercial nuclear industries, we used "seven half-lives" as a heuristic rule-of-thumb to determine when a particular isotope would be gone or its radioactivity decayed to the point of being insignificant.
Seven half-lives for a 90-minute isotope would be » 10½ hours.
» Attractiveness and Calculating High Genetic Mating Scores
But, if you happen to see her .. please give my best to her grandma. Tho, on a tangent perhaps worth returning to and exploring later .. do you feel that the historical health of a prospective mate's ancestry .. do you feel that this forms an important part of your genetic qualifications?
Her comments about her grandma made me think parts of the new Mad Max movie .. in ways I have not thought before .. about genetics. And reproduction and procreation. Both self and species-wide.
"What's that you say? .. one of your parents died of cancer and the other is in an insane asylum? I need to go home and feed my dogs. Please excuse me."
Her grandma was 95. Does this give her more genetic points? For being of more hearty stock? Beyond the other obvious positive points, I mean.
Before, I would have said that it didnt matter. But now, I think it does. Speaking of the new Mad Max ..
» Mad Max Fury Road
I dont think I've ever seen another movie like this. I particularly enjoyed the way the viewer discovers information. How they present the story. How they reveal it to you .. rather than narrate.
I would be proud to have a movie like this as part of my repertoire. As one of my credits. I was totally impressed.
It really grabs you .. from the very beginning. The sound is particularly impressive .. from the very first engine rev. Within the first minute, you know » "This is gonna be good. This is gonna be real good."
"My name is Max. My world is fire and blood." He is not kidding. Not exaggerating .. as you will see. Fire and blood. True that.
This film has a must-see aspect to it. Visually stunning. Downright stunning. And I am a visual kind-of-guy. (As are most guys, visually stimulated.)
» The Director of Happy Feet (George Miller)
Our favorite scene was where Ramon says » "Oh, I love gravity." [ This clip here is lower quality, but it includes the preceding song, which I also like. We would always get up and dance to that song. "You hear me." ]
Out in the rec room, where we watched so many movies .. we had one of those circular mini exercise-trampolines. When this song came on, we would sometimes put it on the floor in front of the TV and he would bounce on that trampoline .. dancing to the rockin' latin beat. We would turn it up loud.
I would hold his hands and lift him up after each bounce in order to help give him more height. (And to make sure he didnt fall and crack his coconut.) Sometimes we would replay that part over and over. "Again, dad!" [ He has been bouncing on trampolines ever since he could walk. ]
» The End of the Tour for David Foster Wallace and his Infinite Jest
Because it is a story about David Foster Wallace (.. who killed himself at age 46). I have never read anything by DFW, but Joseph Frank himself mentions DFW in his intro to his single-volume condensed bio on Dostoevsky. And that alone sends up my writer's antennae.
Tho, how can you ever really feel ready for something like that? I'm not sure that you ever could be. And that's part of what makes it so special. And inspiring. And challenging. A chance to test yourself. It's a good idea to test ourselves from time to time.
DFW killed himself in 2008. I am actually more interested in The Pale King .. because that was the book that killed him. I can feel myself curious about any clues he might've left. Such curiosities cause me to read deeper.
The End of the Tour includes as a key element the celebrity that accompanies DFW and his novel. Even tho I have addressed celebrity and writing, there is a part of me (oddly enough) that does not feel qualified to discuss this film at a level that I would like to ..
.. because I do not have the experience of celebrity-as-a-writer that he has experienced. What gives me the bona fides to speak with authority and authenticity on such a topic? (Answer » nothing.)
Sure, I could speculate .. like anybody. But such speculations often prove false .. when you yourself are ass-deep into the reality of such an experience.
Somebody like Walter Kirn could write on the topic and it would be legit commentary .. because he has the real-life experience to back his thoughts and opinions. Legit, as far as goes the writing of one famous writer commenting about another.
Of course, I can hear the voice taunting me, saying, "You're pussying out because you know that you dont have the heuvos for a throwdown of that magnitude. You talk a lot of shit, but when it comes time to actually throwdown, you find convenient excuses."
But I am not going to let some crazy voice in my head talk me into doing something that I dont feel prepared for. Would you?
» Irrational Man with Emma Stone
Speaking of crazy voices in your head .. I feel compelled to mention this Woody Allen flick that I saw, titled Irrational Man, starring Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix.
I didnt realize that this was a Woody Allen flick until I actually began watching the DVD. The Bug's mom was the one who turned me onto Woody Allen and his neurotic ways. (Which somehow make you feel less neurotic.)
The thing that gives movies their magic .. is when you-the-viewer somehow lose yourself in a story .. in a world that the writer and the director have created for you. You know what I'm talking about.
And different movies do this to you to different degrees. And the more fully that you are able to be immersed into the story, into the imagined world, the cooler the effect becomes of you actually entering this created world.
Psychologists will tell you that your mind does not make much of a difference between a deeply imagined experience and the actual experience itself. Again, you know here exactly what I mean.
So, what am I saying here? I am saying that I was feeling this movie in a big way. It was easy to insert myself into the story, into the narrative, to become the character. Surprisingly easy.
Now there are many reasons why I found myself feeling this film so strongly. And I could go into great detail .. and I would have a lot of fun explaining why I was feeling this film so deeply .. but the end result is .. that » it felt like Emma Stone was coming onto me.
» The Two Irish Sisters Who Lived Around the Corner
Right around the corner from where I grew up lived a large Irish Catholic family. They had two sisters that were about my age. One was prettier than the other, but the other was sexually aggressive. She had a strong sexual appetite.
And during the film, I caught myself thinking about these two very Irish sisters, and how, if you combined them together, then you would have someone very much like the character that Emma Stone portrayed. (Pretty and innocent-looking, yet sexually aggressive.)
I never had any romantic relationships with either of these Irish sisters because .. girls who grow up in your neighborhood with you .. they are kinda like your sisters .. in that you know them all your life .. from when you were very small. You know them too good to date them.
At least, that's how they felt to me. (I was better friends with their brother, who had a great basement hang-out for all the neighborhood kids. He had a wild streak.)
If I were Woody Allen, I would have been delighted with Emma Stone's performance. But yes, it was easy for my imagination to insert my ego into the story. Surprisingly easy. It felt like the story was a magnet, sucking me in to it.
The was a scene where they are standing on a grassy bluff above the ocean after Emma Stone (who plays an adoring college student) takes Joaquin (a college Philosophy professor) to a lighthouse there in Newport, Rhode Island .. where, after a pronounced pause, she says (at t=35:30) » "You know I'm in love with you."
Of course, the professor in the movie (Joaquin) brushes off her advances so deftly. The way they shot this scene .. lingering on her from a side-view .. and she confesses her feelings for him (while he is out-of-frame).
And Joaquin says, "You think you are. What you are is in love with the romantic concept of being in love with your college professor."
And this is exactly the type-of-shit that drives people crazy about philosophy (.. because it might actually be true). But time and again he fends off her advances. And it kind of trips me out in a way. In a fun way.
The film did not get great reviews, but there were so many things about it that I really enjoyed .. that I actually watched it again before sending it back to Netflix. And I rarely do that.
The very first line of this film comes from a voiceover of Joaquin's thoughts while driving to the new college » "Kant said that human reason is troubled by questions that it cannot dismiss, but also cannot answer" [ I do not know for a fact that Kant actually said this. ] And off we go on our story, on our adventure.
Then the very next thing he says (still driving) is » "You know, the existentialists feel that nothing happens until you hit absolute rock bottom." [ And once you start talking about existentialists, now you are talking about my people. ]
You can feel your world expanding around you .. and it feels good. It is not far from the feeling you get when you are in love. Very satisfying. At a deep level.
One of my favorite lines in the film comes when the Philosophy professor says, "It's very scary when you run out of distractions." Which made me think of Maria. "Distractions from what?" you ask? Where to begin?
» The Thing that Did It for Me
There is a scene early on, where Joaquin is telling his young adoring student about his checked past and he says, "But I always read. Especially the Russians. Dostoevsky .. he got it." [ And you know how much of a fan I am of the Russian. And yes, he did get it. ]
And the camera cuts to Emma Stone and she says, "I've read it all."
And at that point, I felt myself want to have sex with her. Like, without trying to. Like, it happened on its own. I dont think I've ever had that feeling before. Like, you have to remind yourself that it's only a movie. Like, it was a real experience for me.
But, if you think about that .. there is nothing sexual about reading Dostoevsky. Surely, she did not mean it in any sort of seductive way. So why was that the thing that did it for me? And I'm not sure that I can answer that satisfactorily. (Perhaps it had something to do with trust.)
But, it kinda goes back to my theory about relationships and resonating at a natural level .. as I was telling Mary-Louise, recently .. when an attractive member of the opposite sex just so happens to be doing the same thing that you yourself are doing ..
.. it makes it easy to resonate with them at a natural level. You are not trying to .. but rather just resonating naturally, easily, effortlessly. And it is easy and natural to explore these areas of resonance.