I went to an awards luncheon today, wherein I ran into an old drinking buddy of mine. His mom just passed away, and we were talking idly about the need to get together again. I said that I didn’t drink anymore, which had really put the kibosh on our previous type of socialization. He said he really didn’t drink much anymore, either. I promised to text him the next time we were having a BBQ or the like, and we parted ways. then I started thinking: I don’t do ANYTHING social anymore.

Like, since the United States elected a balloon animal president, I am very civically active, with a bunch of feminist activism, and that’s social, a little- but nothing else. No music, no dancing, no late-night yard fires and carousing- nothing. THAT’S DUMB.

It’s like I also quit having fun.

I mean, I have been really making out with sleep since I quit, because SLEEP IS SO GOOD NOW. And dancing is definitely harder when you’re aware your stomach is better at twerking than your buns. And also, cancer pants. that will suck the fun right out of your life like an ogre sucking marrow from your bones. But STILL. Nothing? I can’t keep living with my head down so the universe will think I’m unconscious and stop punching me in the face. The universe will punch whether I’m having fun or not. So I’m going to experiment and see what sober fun looks like.

This Saturday, I’m bowling to raise money for Planned Parenthood, and while I am dreadful at bowling, i think I’ll go have “drinks” with the team after. See where the night takes me.

I am also planning a trip to see friends, and that is equally unprecedented. It has caused beloved husband to blow more than one gasket. But I’m still doing it. Because fun.

 

Abandon your previous attempts to quit your control habit. Control hard. Control free. Control like the fucking wind.

My littlest one (4-year-old) got a new-to-her bike at a bike swap on Saturday. She’s hilarious- girl saw her bike and then just zipped around the parking lot for an hour while her sister tried 2197287507821 other bikes, until she finally found an acceptable one. (When the cashier told me and the hubs that she also got a free helmet with the bike, our shoulders visibly sagged.)

We were so excited about these new rides that we rode them up the very steep hill to my sister-in-law’s new place, where we were gathered for her birthday party. Everyone was pretty chill, actually. it was early in the evening, and it seemed like only a couple folks were really lit. But my SIL was drinking wine, and although I didn’t have any substantive conversation with her, I have decided in my little judgy mind that she was buzzed up.

I had driven up to carry food, so was driving home at around 8 (after 5 hours of carousing). My husband said he’d stay with the girls a little longer, then head home. When they arrived, my youngest was in hysterics. It turned out, SIL had offered to walk home with her (while she rode her bike), so she and her cousin could spend a little more time together. My husband and the big girl took the long way home, to ride their bikes longer.

SIL was carrying her baby on her chest, and cousin was walking, and my girl was riding. They headed down the incredibly steep hill, and my daughter lost control of her bike. She went faster and faster, and called out to her aunt for help. SIL yelled for her to slow down, but her feet slipped off the pedals, which were going too fast to intercept, and she flew across two alleys and a city street before she crashed into the berm along the sidewalk and dragged her feet to stop. her shoes are scuffed completely, with holes in the toes, and he toes are road-rashed raw. But she’s not dead, which is good.

And I am so hopping mad I can hardly stand to be around my stupid self. I know I’m being unfair, and that this was understandable, and even if she’d been sober I would still be furious- because she made me feel so afraid, because she was so careless, because she put my daughter in harm’s way (thought total innocence- she doesn’t know that a 4-year-old can’t solo ride down a steep hill).

Advice? How do I let go?

Before the most fantastic shitsplosion evacuated its’ bowels all over my fragile psyche? So, I’m still doing that.

Here’s the latest chapter. when I quit drinking, and it WORKED, I started really juicing up on the practically incandescent notion that my behavior and my values finally matched. As time has gone by, I’ve started to be a little suspicious of that satisfied feeling. Here’s why: I’m really judgy about other peoples’ drinking. And I don’t notice it until I’m already holier than thou-ing my smarmy little buns through my nightly ablutions.

That, coupled with my desire to explain to the parking attendant why she should eat kale, or sneering at the person complaining about her allergies and buying Febreeze, or telepathically rolling my eyes at the co-worker who is so lonely but just can’t stand to bring herself to go to ANY SOCIAL EVENTS EVER, has made me realize that I might be binging on something I would never have considered: control.

I have a counselor (NO WAY, RIGHT), and we were talking the other day about my strange recalcitrance in forming close friendships. She was saying how this made sense for an abused kid, and she characterized it as this sweet and sad thing, little me inside o big me, afraid to trust anyone and be close. But, I said, it’s actually ugly. I don’t allow anyone dangerous to get close at all. I’m not vulnerable because I am always in control.

Was I drinking so much to be in control of my feelings, or to be free of the need to control everything? Maybe both. But here, at the center of my swirling miasma of shitty coping strategies, one very important clue: control.

And now that I’m not drinking, I’m binging on that. Which is the next thing I’d like to stop abusing.

Hey, team. I’m sorry I’ve been utterly and entirely silent. Everything fell mostly apart. And now, things are continuing to politely reassemble, like the world’s biggest piece of IKEA  furniture. An OLL FAKDHUP (in aisle 9027782571, beside the linen storage towers and sectional chaise lounges), if you will.

This morning, we heard back from my husband’s doctor that the biopsies (he has to do these every three months for two years) of his tumor site are still unremarkable. He has a boring rectum. This means he has been cancer-free for one year.

I’m not crying, because I’m a robot now. But I’m pretty happy about this. And, (drum roll), I’ve stayed sober the whole time. I’ve missed you. You look terrific. Are those new pants?

 

Well, it’s done. 8 months, 16 chemotherapy cycles, 6 weeks of radiation and 4211575752157507 scopes, scans, and examinations, and my husband is cancer-free.

Clear CT Scan, clear endoscopic ultrasound, and not one cancer cell in the biopsies.

Holy fucking shit.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Large Hadron Collider. I’m waxing philosophical, here, so bear with me. I have felt, over the last eight or so months, sympathetic to the lead electron at the nose of a high-speed electron beam, roaring around an accelerator ring at nearly light speed, every lap incrementally nudging closer to a head-on-collision with an opposing electron beam, traveling at equal speed. But, less dramatically, I’ve been thinking more about what they’ve found.

The intent of the Large Hadron Collider is to investigate the structure of the atomic nucleus. (I copied that from the LHC website). But it’s been doing more than that- like any scientific investigation of the unknown, it has the potential to change everything, by altering our perception of the nature of stuff. If, for example, the LHC reveals that energy becomes matter in describable/predictable circumstances, or becomes matter by describable/predictable mechanisms, it would radically change how we see the universe. It’s literally a tiny change, but it would be a boundless change, philosophically.We already believe/theorize that matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed, which basically means that everything in the universe was always here, in some iteration of either matter or energy. Everything that you are always was, and always will be, in one form or (maybe and/or) another. You are, and always have been, infinite. You probably knew this already, deep down. It’s the kind of thing you can feel, even if it takes you half your life to put it into words, or the words you finally find are from the Large Hadron Collider website.

Since the dawn of science, pretty much, humans have been searching for one unifying theory of everything- one set of rules to describe how the universe works. Pure science often distances itself from “WHY?” The more ruminative or philosophical science community tarries on “WHY?”, but returns first to “HOW?” as the first answerable question, since “WHY?” is a dependent variable. So far, most every new determination in science has been used to take the magic out of “WHY?”, to make it explicable, intelligible, rational. Crashing these electrons around and finding, in the resulting measurable detritus, the field in which energy becomes matter, is the scientific equivalent of finding the body of Christ, withered and carbon-based, behind a very solid rock. It means to many that there is no unifying force of creation. No sentient or, more importantly, benevolent force orchestrating the matter and energy of the universe. No God, loving us individually.

This is confusing to me, in the same way evolution somehow disproving any creation stories confuses me. In fact, I can’t believe one without the other. I feel closer to understanding the organizing force of the universe when destruction and transformation are part of the magic, too.

As Lex Luthor said, in the latest Superman installation, “If God is all good, He can’t be all powerful.” And that’s bumper-sticker simple, right? But it’s also gorgeous. Choose your nomenclature – God, Allah, Gaia(aiaiaiaia), the Universe – in the way that resonates with you, because that’s important. But the rest of the sentence is fine. The cancer is part of the magic. The dying is part of the magic. It’s not the end, or the tailings pile, or the dregs. It’s as much a part of the system as the fucking, the cheeseburgers, the birthing, the poetry, the fall of the Berlin wall; it’s as real and intrinsic to being as your beating heart. It’s not the shadow to the light- not the opposite of life or the other side of the coin. Scientifically, there is no opposite of entropy.

Entropy is the measure of disorder in a system. It’s not a philosophical concept even if it’s growing in your husband’s ass.

What is philosophical to me is the infinite nature of the experience of my stuff. If entropy is an equal part of being, and being is meaningful, then entropy is meaningful, too. Moreover, because I’m intrinsically related to the Universe, I’m comparably connected to you, to my husband’s cancer, to Rwanda, and to Philandro Castile. The space between us is expansive at the same time our connection is connate- definitive, part of the fundamental laws of the universe. And, for some reason I still don’t understand, I have the ability to willfully operate my own little world-builder. I have the ability to decide. 

When I think about the electrons in my body, responsible for the communication of thoughts to action, and then think about how enormous they are, compared to the much smaller particles responsible for the creation of matter, I feel suddenly aware of how powerful that ability to decide is. I can make meaning. If I want to change the universe, all I have to do is change my mind.

One electron, at the head of a roaring stream, circling faster and faster, edging closer and closer to collision. One tiny particle, breaking apart the fabric of the universe, revealing a billion smaller universes within it.

I can love. And that changes everything.

I continue to exist. (At least right now.)

My husband is having his last chemotherapy infusion right now. Then, much in the same way one faces a lifetime of not drinking, we contemplate how to be for the rest of our lives.

And like drinking, it’s probably more a question of what we will do than what we won’t.

Eight months. A whole life.

Also, hi. I’ve missed you all, and you look terrific.