When people tell me to stay positive, I want to punch them in the face. No. Seriously. The second that statement moves from their lips to my ears, I envision myself as Lisbeth Salander, taking out her face piercings just before gliding through the air with the grace of a flying squirrel and landing a Mike Tyson’s TKO punch squarely upside that person’s optimistic head.
- I already *know* that staying positive is the way to go. You are not smarter than I. Well, you might be, but you lose points for passing along bromides and then expecting me to validate you.
- My life is not a chapter from The Secret; we are not going to will ourselves into an existence of positivity simply with our verbalizations.
- The universe cannot exist in a solely positive state. It is all about balance. There cannot be love without hate. There cannot be good without evil. Positivity only exists because negativity does. We like to demonize certain halves of dichotomous states (anger, evil, insecurity), but the truth is that we need ALL of it in order to exist. There is a time for anger. There is a time for fear. There is a time for negativity. (If you’re resisting me on this, think about it: Have you ever *met* a person who is positive 100% of the time? Those people are not only excruciatingly annoying, but they seem quite a bit out of touch with reality. Almost delusional. Delusional – ALSO not something you want to be around.)
WITH THAT SAID, I have been accumulating a list in my head of all the positive things that have come from having cancer. No, I’m not talking about spiritual experiences blah blah and learning to open myself up to love more blah blah. That’s not what this blog is about. I’m referring to the little things that pop up from day to day. Having cancer has definitely brought about some positive changes in my day-to-day world:
- I am saving a LOT of money on grooming, mostly in the hair department.
– Hair cut and colored – $150 every 6 weeks
– Eyebrows and upper lip waxed – $25 every 3-4 weeks
– Laser hair removal sessions on various sections of the body – $50 every 2 months
– Tanning sessions – $15 every 1-2 weeks
- I am saving a lot of TIME on grooming. It used to take me an hour and a half to get ready in the morning. Now, as long as my teeth are brushed and I remembered to change out of my robe and slippers, I’m good to go.
- I get to be white-girl skinny, and no one can say shit. I’m a fan of the jutting hip bones and the thigh gap. I shouldn’t be admitting this out loud; my feminist friends are going to tear me apart. But it’s true. Junk in the trunk works if you’re Beyonce or J Lo or Serena Williams … but it doesn’t typically look the same on an Irish/English/Welsh/Polish mutt. In the past, when I’ve dropped weight, it’s led to a series of almost intervention-like conversations from my girlfriends, ex-girlfriends, and dark-skinned associates … oh yeah, and my grandma. Now, it’s just part of the deal.
- I no longer feel guilty about NOT going to the gym. I hate working out. This tends to elicit surprise from many people, since I used to exercise 3-5 times a week. It’s not because I like it. It’s not because it’s good for me. It’s because I’m VAIN.
- I get to stay up all night. Remember when you were a teenager, and your guardians got on your case about going to bed at a “decent hour?” Remember how you would stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning, and then you’d have to hear a lecture the next day from your adult caregivers about how you’re “wasting the day away” by sleeping in until noon? Newsflash, old fogies: teenagers have a shift in their circadian rhythms while their hormones are changing, so they’re *supposed* to have a different sleep cycle than children and adults. And some of us never grow out of that. My lifelong insomnia aside, I’ve always been one who likes to stay up late and sleep in the next morning. Now I can.
- Downtime. I have buttloads of it. You probably don’t.
- Medical marijuana, without legal repercussions. ‘Nuff said.
- I have not had a menstrual cycle since chemotherapy started. I have no idea if this is normal or not. I probably should ask my oncologist about that. Still – it’s been pretty convenient not having to deal with that once every twenty days.
- Better mail in the mailbox – Do you know what I used to get in my mailbox before I had cancer? Circulars, advertisements, and BILLS. Those still come, but they’re interspersed with cards, care packages, and letters. LETTERS – people still write those, apparently! Okay, I’ve only received letters from one person and the promise of letters from another … but still. They’re bringin’ it back old school, and I appreciate them for that.
- Sex is no longer a distraction. I think we can all agree that sometimes we make TERRIBLE LIFE CHOICES because our minds/bodies/body parts are only focused on getting one thing. Luckily, that is not currently a concern of mine, since chemotherapy – in its quest to poison every single thing inside my body – has also managed to poison any interest I have in getting laid.
- Better seating at public venues – Having advanced cancer allowed me to get front-row seats at a recent Black Violin concert. That was, hands down, the best classical music performance I’ve ever been to. I need to figure out how to milk this perk further down the road….
- Kitty cuddle time, every day, all day if I want it
- My roommate cooks for me. Okay, she did that before, but I get it even MORE now. And sometimes, I’m not even expected to clean my dishes afterwards.
- Hitting the “reset” button on work burnout – Let’s face it: work sucks the life out of too many of us. But when you DON’T work, you actually WANT to go to work.
- Ongoing chauffeur services – It’s nice to be driven around all the time. Granted, this doesn’t always work out to my benefit. Some of my friends (ahem, roommates) seriously can’t drive. Still, it’s nice to take a break from driving for a while. I’ve had hybrid cars since 2005, so I’ve spent the last decade carting everyone else around because my car gets the best mileage.
- Decreased expectations – Forget that decade-plus of teaching experience I’ve had, whereby I was trained to believe in the importance of *never* lowering my expectations of my students. Lowered expectations are kind of nice. You’re less likely to disappoint people when they stop expecting as much from you.
Let me know if I missed anything. I might make this an ongoing list.