It is 3:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday and I am drinking a glass of champagne. I’m not celebrating anything or I’m celebrating everything. I do not know which. Earlier, I cried to no one because no one was here which is usually how I prefer to lick my wounds: in private.
Yet here I am blogging because writing for me is a release and even though blogging can often be thought of as sloppy writing – please pass the champagne – I find it therapeutic. Plus, I know it will prevent me from having to repeat this one hundred times.
I am grateful you understand, grateful that there might be one hundred people who would actually want to hear this story, but my gratitude is waning so bear with me as I bare my soul—not really—as I bear witness to my own life (yes, that’s better). That’s about as crisp as I can make this intro.
The Hooks Are Not Down Under
A couple of weeks ago in a moment of despair, I pounded my fists against a bare wall and screamed out, “Are you on crack?” I was screaming at God of course because someone was pulling the strings in my life and it wasn’t me. God was either on crack or He was in Australia or both.
My blog is late but my period is not. It has been these small blessings that have carried me for the past four weeks, and this update is long so I’m going to give it to you straight. Are you with me?
The Bad News:
– Hook has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
– We had to move out of our house with barely a week’s notice amidst doctor’s appointments because we had leased out the house in anticipation of Oz.
– Our year and a half of planning for a year’s sabbatical in Australia is off.
– Hook is having a hard time going cold turkey on smoking. (If you’re thinking about not feeling bad for this man because he ‘brought it on himself,’ those are words you never want to say to me or even hint at.)
– I am angry all the time. It’s like I’m in an endless week three of my cycle where I vacillate between manic happy and manic sad.
The Good News:
– Hook’s cancer is not stage four. Someone asked if it was stage two or three, and I said, “I don’t know. I only know the oncologist kept saying ‘It’s not stage 4’.” Apparently stage four equals quick death. Instead the oncologist and the surgeon, who seemed to welcome Hook into their sciency brotherhood with a medical Q&A I wasn’t able to follow, believe they can kill/shrink/remove the mass and send us on our way … to Australia … maybe in a year.
– Hook’s university pushed out his sabbatical and pulled him back in for the academic year. (Translation: They did not make him waste his year of sabbatical while getting chemotherapy and radiation treatments. This is a very, big deal.)
– Qantas, oh Qantas, how do I love thee. Qantas, those wonderful, odd-sounding Aussies refunded our $3,599 airfare 100%. One hundred percent! They didn’t even take a change fee. The Qantas lady, that beautiful strange-sounding Sheila, had this extra-sensory perception thing where she could tell I wasn’t making up our horrible turn of events. God bless that woman.
– Hook has been prescribed medicinal marijuana. Just kidding. Wouldn’t that have been cool? We could have sold it on the streets in our new neighborhood, which would have fit right in with the meth lab I’m convinced is in operation next door and with our neighbor-no-more who was arrested two days after we moved in. Hook said, “Good morning babe. The police arrested the neighbor across the street this morning. They walked her out in handcuffs around seven am.” I looked at him with sleepy eyes and replied, “Hmm, is the coffee fresh?” We are sleeping in our own bed again and we only live ten minutes from where Hook will get his treatments for the next three to four months. It’s the little things that matter now.
– A literary agent asked for 50 pages of one of my manuscripts. More on this in the next blog.
So it sounds like the Good News outweighs the Bad News, right? Yes. So then where does God on crack come in?
God on Crack
We hired a local property management company for our two properties assuming we would be out of the country of course. The irony that Hook and I own two homes but had no place to live did not escape either of us. But we had signed a management contract and we meant to honor that contract even after we had received the diagnosis of Hook’s biopsy. The list of how the property management company screwed up is too long to share. I would type their company name here but I’m afraid if I see it again in print, my head might actually explode from all the venom built up inside. I’m like that horse in Young Frankenstein. Every time I have to say the name of the company or Hook says the name, words of a dark nature start to spew from my lips and they come so fast I can’t even enunciate so that it just sounds like I’m gurgling and Hook has to walk over to me and rub my back and soothe me with words, “It’s okay babe. It’s okay.”
They lied about when the tenants signed the lease. They lied about whether we had any say in who moved in. They lied about when the tenants were going to move in. And get this, the tenants still haven’t moved in yet and we haven’t even been paid our June rents as of today, June 30th, even though the company received both rents on June 1st. What this all means is that we never had to move out, only to put our stuff in storage for two weeks, only to call the moving company a second time in less than a month to move us again, only to find ourselves living out of suitcases, driving back and forth from north to south for almost daily doctors’ appointments. I’m hysterical just writing this.
A simple, “We’re sorry, we screwed up,” would have gone a long way with me, but instead the company tried to explain their way out of it. You know how it goes, when you tell a lie then you have to tell another one to cover up the first one, then you start to lose track of what you told and to whom, and pretty soon all that ever comes out of your mouth is a lie even when you don’t have to lie, even when the truth would actually be better.
Crack. Cocaine. Please, somebody buy me a margarita and don’t be stingy with the Don Julio either.
And In the Present Moment
Yes, Hook is doing chemo now although right at this moment, he is likely fishing or collecting bugs in Port Aransas which is where I sent him for a long weekend so he could relax and have some much-needed Hook time. I’ve been doing my best to avoid most of the public, only attending the most basic of events or those things that don’t require me to speak or to think or that allow me to be somewhere else in my head for a short while. Mostly, I’ve been avoiding people I know because I don’t want to hear or say the word “cancer” except sometimes I blurt out the story like a tourettes patient to someone I run into who doesn’t already know.
I actually hate the sound of it: Cancer. Why couldn’t they have called it cake or candy or curtains? Why does it have to be called cancer? “Hook has cake! Hook has candy!” Doesn’t that sound much better?
I don’t want to see little brochures that read ‘Fight Cancer’ or to hear people say, “You’re going to beat this thing.” It’s not a war, cancer is not a person. I don’t even know what it is except this incredibly scary, uncontrollable thing that seems to be running our lives right now. I hate it.
Yes, I am losing my mind. No, I have not upped my alcohol intake except for today, and that’s only because it’s a Saturday and I have emptied the last of the last of the moving boxes and I deserve a toast. Here’s to me, damn it.
And here’s to my husband – that kind, funny, ornery, obscene man I fell in love with four years ago. He deserves a more patient wife, a stronger woman who would know how to manage the uproar better.
Next Blog: Hook Quits Smoking for Good. Or, Man’s Anus Stuffed with Cigarettes, Found in Alleyway.
Remember, God is in Australia, possibly on crack. It’s just me and the champagne.