Saturday, June 25, 2016

She Won't Answer Anyway

"'S that a husky?" the boy says, reaching over the railing to pet Coco, who shies away as if she's been burnt.

"No, it's a shiba inu," I say.

"A shiba weiner?"

"Close enough."

Friday, June 24, 2016


I step out of the shower, wrap myself in a towel, and peer down the dark hall to our roommate's room.

"I could have sworn I heard her come home," I tell Katie. Coco, our dog, peers up at us curiously, her tongue lolling out in its accustomed position.

"Could just be the dog, tumbling around like a shoe in a dryer," Katie replies.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Chee NO Mo

"So it looks like chemo didn't work," my medical oncologist says sadly. "But you've got surgery scheduled, which is good."

"I feel like I let you down, Doctor," I say.

She whacks me on the knee with a rolled up medical chart.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Although the nausea has abated, the second week after chemo usually involves a lot of pain in the area around my tumor - the equivalent of having a stomach ache or intestinal cramps, but in my upper thigh. I can usually keep it in check with a steady dose of ibuprofen, but if I miss the timing on the dose by as little as twenty minutes or so, the pain comes back with a vengeance, and there's nothing I can do about it until the tardy drugs work their way back around through the bloodstream to take care of it.

Last night, though, my body woke me up at precisely midnight, and then again at precisely four A.M. for my dose, keeping me from hurting - the fact of which I found so wholly amazing and awesome that I found myself standing on the subway platform this morning, composing an ode to the body in its dumb wisdom, singing (in my head) Praise! to the holy body that works small wonders for us every day, despite its suffering and mistaken cells, Praise! to the sacred flesh that supports us and would die for us, if it could, all Praise!....

Until this guy prodded me, not unkindly, in the shoulder to get me to move out of the way on the crowded platform so a lady could get by me to get on her train.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

First World Problems

"Everything will be...fine," my boss says with a sigh before she affixes a bright smile to her face. "I mean," she continues, waving her hand, "it's nothing compared to what you're going through."

"It's not like that," I say with a grimace. "First world problems are still problems, you know?"

Monday, June 20, 2016


My first bike ride since I started chemo is to see my writing group, mostly because it's downhill the whole way.

My more canny readers may have noticed the flaw in my logic.

In the highest (lowest? I never can figure out the nomenclature - it's the one where you can spin the pedals fifty times to creep forward a foot) gear available, I crawl up the the looming hills of the side streets, snaking my way between avenues like a man doing switchbacks up Everest, until I make my final assault up Union between 6th and 7th.

The cars whoosh past me as I hug the line of parked cars, trying to feel as unconcerned as those ancient asian men I see in videos of Bejing who ride their bikes through the inferno of rush hour traffic.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Secret Brotherhood

One of the vendors at the Flea, the one they call "Tall John," smokes a pipe into which he occasionally sprinkles a little weed along with his tobacco. He sells vintage furniture and has several large, interesting tattoos running up and down his lean, veiny arms.

He looks me up and down in the morning, before we're done setting up, says, "Yeah, that haircut, 's that like a chemo thing?"

When I confirm, he nods sagely and says, "I ended up stronger than when I started, with mine."