frogg files

"She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick." --Flannery O' Connor

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Survived My Night In The Cemetery

So the Bon Iver concert was quite awesome, and the logistical negatives were surprisingly minimal, considering it was an event located in the heart of Hollywood. The only real "hiccup" happened when we arrived at the cemetery only to be told by a security guard that they had no more parking available, but if we drove about a block away, we could park in another lot. What's wrong with that, you ask? Well, nothing really — if your definition of "a block" is "a quarter mile." Let's just say that ours wasn't.

But other than that, it was a great night. We arrived at about 2:30 a.m. and met up with friends who had staked a claim "near the palm tree," as they said — which was funny because there are kind of a lot of palm trees in the Hollywood cemetery. However, we did find them, and just in time to catch the end of Bottle Rocket, which was being projected on a large wall for the benefit of anyone who felt like what they really wanted to do at almost 3 in the morning was watch a movie (instead of, say, sleep).

After the movie, we were treated to a DJ set "specially selected" for the evening by Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver, which was probably another way of saying that they hooked up his iPod to some speakers and set it to random shuffle or something. (Kidding. Sort of.) Then, another movie, this time part of the renowned Planet Earth documentary. At least, I hear it's renowned. I've never actually seen any of it myself. And quite honestly, I still haven't — I was asleep or just plain not paying attention for most of it that night/morning.

At 5:15 a.m. some Buddhist monks provided their version of Gregorian chant (I suppose) and blessed the stage. And then finally, Bon Iver took the stage at 6 a.m., starting off with a version of his song "Lump Sum" that made me shiver.

Or it could have been the cold morning air and fog, I guess. But either way, it was good. The whole performance was just fantastic, and I'm really glad I went.

Now, what "crazy" thing can I do next... any suggestions?? (Oh, I'm going to Boston next month! Does that count?)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Me vs Me

Tonight I am doing something kind of bizarrely out of character. I'm going to the Bon Iver Sunrise Concert @ Hollywood Forever cemetery.

It's not so much the going-to-the-concert part that's out of character, though goodness knows I don't go to very many. It's the fact that I'm actually meeting up with friends at 1:30 a.m. to head over there so we can basically camp out — yes, in the cemetery — until the concert starts at 5:20 a.m. tomorrow.

Now, the old, pre-cancer me would have been like, "That's crazy" when my friend told me she was going. The old me would have mentally ticked through the list of all the reasons why it would be an inconvenient, exhausting hassle and come to the conclusion that there would be no possible way that any performance could be good enough to balance out all the logistical negatives of such an endeavor. The old me would have said, "I am too old." (I know. Sad, right?)

The current me thought, "Hey, I like Bon Iver! That sounds awesome!" (Thank God.)

Turned out my friend had a friend who had extra tickets. So I decided to buy one. Because frankly, sometimes it's just better to say "Why not?" than "Why bother?" And by the way, I'm so glad I had to go through cancer to come to this oh-so-profound conclusion about life. Argh!

(On the other hand, "Why bother?" is a question that I fervently hope will always apply to, say, bunjy jumping. Because if it ever doesn't, I really will worry about my sanity. I mean, a lot more than usual.)

Alright, both me's need to at least attempt to take a nap before they — I mean, I — go to this shindig. So good night, my lovelies, with kisses as always from the frogg princess...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Apocalypse Now?

Coping

Managed to hold out on the chocolate today til 10:45, but then I couldn't stand it anymore — I was all over that Reese's. And I'm already thinking of having another! Sigh. Yeah, it's been that sort of week...

It's also been the sort of week that drives me to drink coffee instead of the tea that I generally much prefer, but I guess it could be worse. It could be bourbon. (Mmmm, bourbon... okay, that definitely has to wait til later.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Speaking of Religion...

...is it sacrilegious to thank God for the existence of engrish.com? Because I can't help it; I do.

You Know It's Going To Be A Tough Day When...

...you find yourself reaching for the chocolate (mini dark Reese's PB cups!) at 9:30 a.m.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Oh for God's Sake!

I've been pretty interested in the subject of prayer for the past couple of years. Not that I've been good at actually praying per se, but I've wanted to understand it — what it's for, why we should do it (assuming we should), what it's supposed to accomplish (if anything). My interest became vastly sharpened what with getting cancer and all, which threw me for a few loops (to say the least) in the faith department. Somewhere around the middle of my treatment, I was probably an agnostic, though not at all particularly happy about it.

Anyway, I'm back to being a Christian, if a somewhat conflicted one, but hey, that's been par for the course for about the last decade, so no huge surprises there. Also, I'm back to having a desire to pray (which was lacking through a good part of the past year), and I'm currently a sucker for any writing on the subject. So naturally when I saw the article The Right Way to Pray? on the nytimes.com Web site, I clicked on it immediately. And was almost immediately discouraged, thanks to the following quote by a man named Daniel Henderson:

Prayer is a lot more than reciting words. It requires mastering both theory and technique.

Because I don't know about you, but I can't think of anything I need more than another set of theories and techniques to get me through this crazy thing called life.

Then there was this observation from the editor-in-chief at beliefnet.com:

In a way, prayer has become its own religion in this society.

Hmm. So let me get this straight — prayer, which was once supposed to be the conduit to God, simply a form of communication, is now possibly replacing God as an object of worship. Which is weird, but welcome to the world of religion.

I have a book on prayer by Richard Foster. It lists out the many different types of prayer and explains each one, along with suggestions for how to practice it. At some point as I made my way through the book, I was like, how on earth are you supposed to pray all these different kinds of prayers? I mean what, do you make a schedule: Monday = Prayer of Examen; Tuesday = Prayer of Tears (yes, that's a type of prayer, apparently); Wednesday = Simple Prayer (no, there isn't a type called "Complicated Prayer", surprisingly enough, though maybe with all these types, the complication comes in naturally on its own); and so on and on and on.

I just want to pray, for God's sake.

Back to the article, I found myself feeling more and more bummed as I read on, until I got to the last page wherein the reporter goes to a church that prompts the following reaction after he has a few conversations with kids who tell him about the people they've been praying for and who (whom?) they've seen get healed:

There are some 300,000 churches in America, and I could have picked any one to attend on Easter morning, but I liked being in this one. Especially the kids. They didn’t need Reverend Henderson’s prayer techniques, or the high-tech mantras of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Their prayers weren’t Rabbi Gellman’s suburban Jewish prayers of Thanks! offered to whom it may concern. They didn’t pray to de-center their egos or find transcendence or to set off on a lifelong therapeutic spiritual journey. They prayed to a God with whom they were on a first-name basis, and they believed their prayers gave them power, which they used on behalf of their asthmatic sisters and infirm grandparents and a kid they knew with burns on his body. Sitting in church on Easter morning, I realized that I was probably never going to become a praying man. But if, by some miracle, I ever do, I hope my prayers will be like the prayers of the kids I met at the Love church in Berkeley Springs. Straight-up Gimme! on behalf of people who really need the help.

That cheered me up. I hope the same thing, on my better days.

Of course, I still don't really "get" prayer. I don't understand why some prayers "work" and others... well, don't. But the truth is, I can't NOT pray. Believe me, I've tried. And at times, I've managed to go quite a long time without it. But eventually I would start again, in spite of myself. I guess I do want to connect with God, if he's there. And maybe that's all prayer really is — a point of connection.

Hmm, I almost wrote contention. Well, it may be that, too, I suppose.

Any thoughts? Mine are a bit rambling at the moment...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blog Rant, Health Update, Chia Pets, and Pet Rocks

I have to confess, I'm pretty frustrated with my blogging of late. Have you noticed that the last two times I went on a major trip — Thailand in January, and Switzerland last month — when I came back, some sort of crisis happened that caused me to forget all about writing about the travel experience until it was kind of too late to bother? After Thailand, it was cancer; after Switzerland it was the fires in California.

So yeah, I guess you'll never know how those trips went. How lame.

On the plus side, I am continuing to improve and recover more and more every day from the chemotherapy. In fact, these past couple weeks, I've felt pretty much back to normal, at least physically. I'm no longer beset by the fatigue that weighed me down for most of the summer. I've even started running again. (Okay, jogging. Okay, okay, jogging with lots of walking breaks! But still, that's a big improvement from even just a month ago.)

I had a followup appointment with my doctor on Tuesday, and all my blood tests came back in good shape. Well, except my red and white blood cell counts are still a bit low. But the doctor said not to worry about that, and that I'm doing great. I won't see him again til December, when I'll also be having a CT scan. I can't say I'm looking forward to that, because a) before the scan I have to drink this disgusting chemical-filled crap that is supposedly "vanilla-flavored" but is actually more like "gross-flavored" and b) when I let myself think about it, I get scared, wondering what I'll do if the scan finds something again.

To be honest, deep down I don't really think it will. But if there's anything I've learned this past year it's that one never knows. And that's, well, scary.

Anyway.

Oh! I thought I'd include a few pics of myself over the past two months, so you can see how my hair is growing. I'm like a Chia pet — every day there's more hair! (By the way, did anyone ever have a Chia pet that actually "worked"? As in, grew? Come to think of it, did anyone out there ever even own a Chia pet in the first place? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?)

But yeah, so here's the first pic, taken, oh I don't know, let's say sometime in late July probably:



Yes, I know I look a little nonplussed. Well, let me tell you, there's nothing like having just had cancer to make one feel slightly ambivalent about life, the universe and everything. Now, here's the next one, taken a couple weeks or so after the first:



You know you want that faux hawk. Don't even try to deny it.

Now here's one that I took a few minutes ago:



Ch-ch-ch-chia, baby!

OK, speaking of Chias (which I seem determined to do for some unfathomable reason), I have another confession. I kind of wanted a Chia pet once upon a time. But even worse? I wanted a pet rock. And yes, I realize I could have gone out into the garden and picked up any number of rocks, stones, pebbles, what have you, but no. I wanted one that came packaged in a cute little box that was filled with straw and included instructions on how to take care of my pet. My grandma had one (why??), and I desperately wanted her to give it to me, but she didn't. I know. I almost can't even write this story down, it's so embarrassing, but there it is. I was a weird kid. Is anyone really surprised?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Update

The fires still burn, but the smoke is starting to clear. At last.

Sorry for the lack of pics, I just have no energy to fight with Blogger.