Crying Uncle

I know people mean well and so they say that scars add character or scars fade (some don’t) or it’s better to be scarred than have cancer. I know they all mean well and that no one knows the exact right thing to say but no one but me has to look in the mirror. This is my 7th surgery over the past 4 years and from those 7 surgeries I’ve lost my hair, the ability to wear a wig, the full use of my left shoulder, and have now gained a big noticeable scar right there in the middle of my face. I’ve lost so much and so much damage has been done to me, it’s overwhelming.

I’m so grateful to God to be cancer-free and the rational me knows appearances shouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things but yesterday, which I thought would be nothing, was my undoing. I accepted waking up with no hair, I accepted in order to help my head heal I’d have to lose some use of my arm, I accept the radiation treatments that saved my life also damaged my skin and I will probably never be fully healed, I accepted that my nose would have a scar from the first Mohs surgery. How much more am I supposed to just accept and be okay with?

Why is this happening to me? To whoever I’ve wronged or for whatever I’ve done to fuck up my karma so bad, I’m sorry. I’m crying uncle. For whatever it is that I have done, you’ve successfully punished me. I am broken. Please stop.

One Perfect Frozen Bubble

Well, it was 27* when I went out at 7:30am on Thursday morning to see if you really need the uber bitter cold temps to make bubbles freeze or if below freezing temps are all that are required. I blew some directly on the tree, some popped, some stuck and froze. I blew a few more up to the sky and down toward my leaf-covered grass, again a few popped a few stuck and froze. This is one bubble that landed on the leaf-covered grass and froze. One perfect bubble for one last day. It’s supposed to warm up and rain for the weekend so this first frozen bubble experiment concludes here.

Frozen Bubbles!

*points above* Do you see that? That’s frozen bubbles on a pine tree. I am one happy woman. I finally managed to get bubbles to freeze. I love bubbles and ever since I read about this phenomenon a few years ago I’ve been dying to try. Unfortunately, the last two winters here have been less winter and more autumn redux with a splash of spring thrown in for good measure.

This week the temps here fell into the single digits with the wind chill making it minus something in the tens and teens so I finally had the perfect opportunity for a serious attempt at freezing bubbles. This fall and winter have been quite cold so I had already tried with no success a time or two before with dollar store bubbles when the temps were in the teens and twenties in December.

I’m almost certain my neighbors think I’m nuts standing outside at 7am blowing bubbles in the bitter cold but this quest became an obsession and I just had to make it work.

I used the recipe listed in the blog post on Apartment Therapy that inspired me to try to freeze bubbles once again. So on Monday night I ran out to Walmart to buy corn syrup and generic dish detergent before the temps fell into the single digits on Tuesday.

I went out Tuesday afternoon when the temps were at their most bitter cold and windy. I stood in the bitter cold blowing bubbles carried off by the wind, not one froze. Once again I was disappointed. I woke up Wednesday morning inspired and ready to try again before the temps warmed up to the twenties and much to my very happy surprise it worked. The bubbles froze!

I ran in, grabbed my camera and macro lens and ran back out to take a few photos. In thinking about this morning’s success I think two important factors are the reason the bubbles finally froze this morning.

  1. It wasn’t windy. The winds were calm, which allowed the bubbles to waft rather than be caught by the wind and blow away. The bubbles had a few seconds more to waft through the bitter cold morning air then land.
  2. I stepped off the front step and moved onto the grass. The bubbles will not and cannot remain intact when they land on cement. To remain intact when they land the bubbles have to land on a soft surface like snow, or grass, or leaves, or in my case a pine tree.

The link says that you need the bitter cold temps of the single digits and low tens for this to be a success, but I am going to try again tomorrow morning when the temps are in the twenties just to see if you actually need the really bitter temps or if anything below freezing will work. I’ll let you know how I make out.

xo xo

~ Carol Anne

To see all of the photos from this morning visit my Flickr page.

The Year of Charlie Brown — Will You Be My Valentine?

Will you be my Valentine?

I didn’t bring my camera with me to Walmart today, but I did bring Charlie Brown and my iPhone. No photography techniques were practiced today, just getting used to taking CB with me everywhere and not feeling uncomfortable taking photos in unusual places. I struggle with this. Do any of you feel uncomfortable or have a hard time taking photos in restaurants or supermarkets or other unusual places to be taking photos? Do any of you have any advice on how to overcome this?

Overcoming my feeling of embarrassment at taking photos everywhere I go will definitely be part of my One Object Challenge this year.

xo xo

~ Carol Anne

The Year of Charlie Brown — Day 2

Charlie Brown Playing in the Snow

7 inches of snow fell in South Jersey between early evening Thursday, January 2 and the morning of Friday, January 3. Temps were in the teens when we went out to dig the car out and clear the walkway.

I wanted to work on taking photos with backlight and catchlights but as I mentioned earlier it was in the teens when I was out taking photos and I’m a complete wuss when it comes to being cold, CB doesn’t exactly have eyes that reflect sunlight, and the sun was just finally appearing from behind the clouds as the storm was passing and the skies were finally clearing when I was out taking photos this morning. The snow isn’t going anywhere any time soon, or at least until Sunday, so I’m hoping to try for a few more snowy CB photos before the rain and ice come on Sunday.

xo xo

~ Carol Anne

Charlie Brown Playing in the Snow

The Year of Charlie Brown — Day 1

Charlie Brown on the kitchen counter right before midnight, January 1, 2014.

I think I am going to take Soapboxville in a more whimsical direction in 2014. On December 12, 2013 I found out that I am 2 years with no evidence of the cancer returning so I think it’s time to focus on fun and frivolity for a while. Oh, I will still tell my truths and chronicle my journey, but I think for at least this new year I will focus on the things that make me happy, the things that interest me, and the things that make me laugh.

On New Year’s Eve The Phoblographer posted a blog titled 5 Photography Challenges for the New Year and I was inspired. All five challenges are great and I’d love to take on the film challenge but that would require a new camera, buying film on a regular basis, and also having to pay to have that film developed on a regular basis, and that is just not in this year’s budget.

I chose the One Object Challenge, for one year I will have fun taking photos of Charlie Brown on a regular basis in a variety of settings to improve my creativity. At first I thought I’d go to Toys R Us today and buy a little monster or a little robot to photograph, but as luck would have it I didn’t make it there today and so I thought that I’d have to start this project over the weekend but I hit on a little inspiration while cleaning up the kitchen and pantry tonight. I had my Peanuts Nativity Set on my kitchen counter and as I was picking it up to put it away for another year Charlie Brown looked at me and said, “Pick me, pick me,” and so I did. I must I must confess I was torn between Charlie Brown and Linus, as I too had a blankie, but Charlie Brown eventually won out.

*** Linus may get his own photo shoots at some point during the year ***

So welcome to The Year of Charlie Brown, follow our adventures as Charlie Brown and my camera accompany me everywhere I go for 365 days.

xo xo

~ Carol Anne

NaBloPoMo Day 26 — 3 Years Gone & I Am Still Not Whole

I saw that a fellow blogger also wrote about this article today.

http://gawker.com/positivity-is-bullshit-when-you-have-cancer-1469975747

I think another misconception the media sells is the mistaken idea that once your treatments are over you’re perfectly healthy again — you’re not. You see these Cancer Center commercials and they show this man walking out ringing a bell after his last treatment, it looks like a parade. Parenthood’s storyline this year is Kristina Braverman running for mayor of Berkley just 1 year after surviving breast cancer, brave, radiant, hair all grown back and perfect.

I blogged my way through surgery and cancer and radiation treatments, I told myself I just had to be brave and think positive, I just had to face each day head-on to make it because that’s what you see on TV, brave radiant cancer warriors, inspiring men, women, and God help us children.

What they don’t show you are the down days, the days when the radiation machine is broken pushing your end date ever further from reach or the days when you have that first MRI and there’s something there but they don’t know what and your neurosurgeon walks out of the room leaving you weeping with the words, “Don’t let this affect your life.”

They also don’t talk much about radiation treatments. Hell, even I said to myself upon learning that I’d have radiation and not chemo, “Well I’m getting off easy it’s the easy cancer treatment.” 3 skin grafts and a muscle flap surgery later there are still areas of skin that have not grown back on my head, which keep me from keeping wearing a wig. The skin still healing from the first 2 skin grafts was damaged by the radiation.

They don’t show people telling you, “Oh you have the good cancer” or the asshole asking, “When is your hair going to grow back? Oh, it’s not? Well then when are you going to start wearing a wig?” As if it is somehow his business and I somehow offend him by wearing a scarf.

They don’t show you the endless scans and follow-ups and the overwhelming all-consuming fear every time you have a scan. Will it come back? Is this the time? Am I living on borrowed time? When will my number come up? 5 years is the supposed benchmark for survivorship but I can think of plenty of people who’ve had it come back many many years later, which leaves me to wonder if I’ll ever be safe.

After cancer treatments end and we’re “cured” society and the media somehow expect us to be radiant, baptized by the fire, saved and counting our many blessings. It’s true the strongest steel is forged in fire but I don’t think you’ll find a great many jubilant steel beams.

I am grateful for my life, and I hope and pray I never have to live through cancer again and I looked for answers and as to what the universe was trying to teach me but when I see pieces like this it just pisses me off. They should do a reality show, The Cancer Diaries and film cancer patients’ day-to-day lives. I think the world would see that most of us are not always negative nor are we always positive — Is anybody? — and that all of us are just trying to get through each day as intact as humanly possible.

NaBloPoMo Day 19 — I don’t get it (feeling ranty)

*looks astonished* I’m taking a Mass Media class this semester. At the outset the teacher outlined what he expected and listed what was expected to get an A, a B, a C, etc. One of the things he listed as being important in turning in assignments and getting an A is a good title. There were 18 submissions last night, 9 of which were titled Module 6. *stands there looking stupefied* We’re 6 assignments in and still half of the class hasn’t at least caught on that the other half is titling their assignments? I’m breathless with amazement. I’m left wondering if the class (or maybe the world at large) is full of lazy people or morons? *scratches head* It’s a 200 level class it’s as high as you can go at this community college, it’s not like it’s an entry-level class, these are people who aspire to a degree in Communications. I don’t get it.

I would never make it as a teacher. I’d fail each and every person who didn’t title their assignments because either they didn’t read the syllabus, are uncreative, or completely and utterly lazy, or the absolutely least observant Communications majors ever.

This is at the top of the syllabus, of which the reading of was part of our first assignment.

CRITERIA FOR SCORE

90-100

• Response has a creative title.

• Response has a masterful control of language (no more than one grammar error).

• Response has clear, orderly development (at least two full paragraphs with each paragraph having five sentences each).

• Response includes quotes from the primary text and module readings.

Come on if you can’t manage the grammar or writing or including quotes the least you can do is come up with a title, right? I seriously don’t get it.