Blog: Nokomis Dancing

The elected double mastectomy

A lot has been buzzing around about Angelina Jolie and her double mastectomy.
I will not download pictures of her or quotes from her recent interviews. I have no wish
to use her image to sell my blog. My blogs are my opinions, nothing more. But such a
strong opinion has developed in me over Angelina’s recent activity that I couldn’t stay
away from this page. I had to get my thoughts out.
First let me say that my grandmother had a double mastectomy. She was a breast cancer
survivor. I’ve a very close friend who has had regularly scheduled mammograms from early in
her life because of the frequency with which her family has encountered the cancer. I take
breast cancer and all cancer very seriously.
But not as seriously as I take life.
Life is more important then cancer.
It always will be.
But when thinking about cancer,
preparing for it, and preventing it, becomes a priority in life my skin begins to crawl.
It was because of the discovery of a faulty gene, one that makes breast cancer far
more likely for the carrier, that Ms. Jolie decided to undergo a preemptive, preventative
double mastectomy. She is a mother of six. She wants to live.
I can understand that,
more then understand that. My son is my reason for living. He is “my best thing”.
I’d take out anyone who may take something away from his life,
I’d even take on death itself.
But is that what Ms. Jolie did?
Because I don’t think so.
She decided to play into the odds that, because of this gene, she had a 60% chance of developing
breast cancer. She decided to decide that cancer was inevitable because of this specific
gene that may or may not decide to show itself.
It is her right. Had she decided to take off her breasts simply for aesthetic preferences,
it is her right. That is her body, she can do what she likes with it. And she’s never been a particularly
conventional girl so it wouldn’t have shocked me. But my concern is not for her actions,
but in the reactions of the press and public.
Ms. Jolie is a hero.
She is being hailed as “brave” and “strong”.
I do not agree.
I do not believe that bravery and strength is reactionary to “maybe” and “what if”.
Nor do I believe that either can live where one is so willing to surrender to a “possibility”.
My possibilities for success, based on my birth place and life experiences thus far, is slim to
none. Should I play the odds and stop trying?
Athletes throw themselves into harms way daily, making their bodies 95% more likely then mine to
be injured, possibly irrevocably.
Should they stop playing?
But Beyond the playing of probabilies,
what of all this making God out of science?
Now science not only creates life, but is the sole provider of it’s sanctity as well?
Genetics is now predicting our future and it is brave, strong and, yes,
(at least this is what the press implies)
MORAL to concede to it’s predictions!
Are we living in the world of The Minority Report?
We can now predict and are being encouraged to react to what MIGHT happen as
what inevitable WILL happen and so here comes our higher evolution.
But I think it’s de-evolution.
Because once upon a time people were brave enough to not have to predict the future to get
through each day.
They used a thing called faith and it worked very well.
And yes, sickness would come
and so would death.
But that didn’t scare people either.
Not only because of the belief in an after life, because not everyone with faith believes in an after-life,
but because of their belief in the sanctity of life, and it’s right to run out of us as surely as it
ran into us.
Fighting for our lives is at the core of who we are as a species. Every species is programed to
do what it must to survive.
But is this what we’re doing?
Are we attempting to survive, or refusing survival by attempting to take out any and all obstacles?
To me, survival is not so simple as preserving our lives or extending our life span. It’s about facing
down obstacles and persevering through them.
This is not what we do when we decide to react to what MIGHT happen as if it were what WILL happen.
When we do this we are actually cowering out of a potential challenge, a chance to show
how well we can survive.
Life is not merely a chance to preserve ourselves for as long as we can.
In fact I do not believe that is what life is at all.
Life is a series of experiences to be learned from and to grow from,
NOT to run from. Especially when what you’re running from is a mist or a shadow
from some kind of fortune teller-
even when they call themselves “Doctor”.
My heart goes out to Ms. Jolie. Because to me it looks as if she has deduced a sickness in her chest
and wrongfully focused on her breasts. The way I see it, her ailment is in her heart. She has never dealt with
the death of her beloved mother and her sadness has grown into fear and that fear into a convoluted logic that somehow what she’s done can prevent her children from ever experiencing the same pain.
I get that.
None of us want our children to suffer, physically or emotionally.
But when we treat illness it’s nonsense not medicine to treat the wrong organ,
to misfire and direct our ‘treatment’ toward something easy to ascertain instead of what is more
difficult to understand.
This will not relieve her fear.
It will be back again. And no, I can’t predict the future.
But I know that fear grows when it is unhampered. It’s not like a dormant gene.
It shows itself in many ways from the moment it creeps into our souls.
And it festers.
What frightens me over this situation is that fear has been dressed up as courage, wisdom
and yes, morality.
It’s taken on that guise before and never lead us in good directions.
For all those women, and men, who have been touched by breast cancer,
my heart goes out to you. And I admire your struggle. I admire your courage in the face
of an obstacle that you choose to confront and fight everyday.
Understand that even for those of you who will loose the battle, you have not lost even
one moment of your life.
Because life means living. And death can happen even before you stop breathing.

Little Pub

Things happen that make us question our self worth. Right now
that’s what I’m going through, but instead of wanting to fight,
this time, I wanted to stay down and give up.
Perhaps it’s the result of impact shock.
I fell hard, far and fast. So fast I’m still not convinced it happened
and certainly don’t understand why it would have happened.
I got a new job a month and a half ago and it, in just a month’s time,
had changed my life back to the way I remembered it years ago. Then,
I was able to pay my rent on the first of each month. I was able to walk
into a grocery store without worrying about how much I spent. And best
of all, I was able to take my son out to dinner, to a movie, maybe even on
a day trip to Mystic Seaport, without being concerned about time off and how
much pay I’d loose.
We were happy then. Douglas never worried about where he’d live or if
he’d have food.
But times changed. After a bout with homelessness and being wrung inside out
by the social services system my son developed anxiety and a deep rooted disappointment
in me.
That was the hardest part. Knowing that my son blamed all this instability on me.
Who else could he blame it on?
No matter what I did I couldn’t find gainful employment. I always worked, full time, but
what ever I did I couldn’t find work that paid enough to bring us back to that old situation,
where we were safe and comfortable.
But then, about a month and a half ago, after once again falling dangerously behind on rent,
requiring town financial assistance to appease my landlord and food stamps as well as trips to the
town food bank to insure we could eat, I got a job at Little Pub Wilton.
I’d tried numerous times to get a position at their location in Ridgefield, CT but they were never hiring.
They didn’t need to. Every day and night their parking lot was packed. Their employees
rarely turned over. So, as soon as I saw the “Hiring” sign outside of their construction site in Wilton,
I ran in and got myself an interview.
It went very well and I was soon offered an opportunity to train. I was hired in April and had been working up until this Monday.
All was going well. Very well. And for the first time in years I felt proud of myself again. Proud because I was actually providing for my family again, providing the comfort and security they deserved. My bills were paid on time and my son got new summer clothes without us busting our monthly budget (he grows about two inches every month I swear!).
All seemed so perfect.
And then…
I’d worked this past Sunday and thought it odd that my manager didn’t ask me for my availability for the coming week. I brushed it off as paranoia and his being generally exhausted and I waited. But come Monday I began to wonder why I hadn’t received a copy of our schedule for this week. I was surprised by a text from a co-worker asking me if I wanted to work for her this Friday night. My first response was “Did you get a schedule?”
“Yes” she responded. I asked her to wait just a little while for my decision while I found out what was going on.
I called my manager and left a message.
He called back.
Turns out I’m no longer on the schedule.
Without warning, without discussion, he no longer has shifts for me.
I begged him to tell me what went wrong, why I’d been fired?! He insisted that I wasn’t fired.
I wasn’t fired???
He just didn’t have any shifts for me.
What? (What was the difference? Was it then more like being laid-off?)
He had to give preferential treatment to those employees that
had committed themselves to full-time work with the company and so had no more room for me.
When I reminded him that I had been hired as part time, that they’d known my schedule limitations, he assured me he understood but that he still had to give any available shifts to others who had more flexible schedules.
So, after a Sunday that seemed like all others I had no more shifts at a restaurant I’d come to look forward to working in four times a week.
No more shifts,
but I wasn’t fired?
I asked him to be straight with me, to tell me what the real issues were.
He insisted there were no reasons other then the one he’d told me. It wasn’t my performance he insisted, yet for some reason I was still expendable.
Worse yet I had to go home and tell my son what had happened. The first thing out of his mouth was “So what do we do now?”
I had no answer.
I understand that some people rely on that job as their only means of income. But what my manager
didn’t seem to understand was, so did I. I have a full time job working for the Stamford Public Schools as a Substitute (usually permanent substitute) teacher. But the pay is horrible ($90, no paid time off, vacations or sick days). Trying to live off that income only was what lead Douglas and I into homelessness to begin with.
I rely on my restaurant income for almost 85% of my monthly income.
Doesn’t that count at all?
And why is full time availability the only consideration that seems to matter?
How about considering the fact that most of those employees are young adults who have very little responsibilities beyond the rent they split with their roommates or significant others? Would one shift less really hurt them?
I have a child.
I’m the only earner in my house hold.
Why doesn’t that matter at all?
Beyond that, how could they not warn me?
I had no idea but it seems that my first month was little more then an audition.
They intentionally hired too many people to see who would work out best for them.
But they hired us.
They employed me and thus reserved my time for a month, a month in which I turned down
two other positions because I believed I’d already found a stable job at the Little Pub.
Now, in late May, all other restaurants have already hired their summer wait staff.
Even the school system has collected all of it’s applications for summer employment.
I would have had to begin applying around the time I believed I’d been hired by Little Pub.
Now, not only am I without shifts,
I am without any summer employment.
And this seemed perfectly natural to my manager and by reflection I can only assume
perfectly natural to my bosses.
To treat people as tools without any further consideration.
Disappointment hasn’t set in yet.
I’m still in shock.
And to be honest, really just sad. I miss being in the place.
And I’m scared as hell. I don’t really want to get up from this one.
This time, I’ve lost so much wind, I just want to stay down and have everything
else go away.
June rent is due in a couple of weeks. Maybe I’ve made enough over the past month to be okay.
But then, there is car insurance to pay. And once again this is my life. Always worrying, and wondering if or when things will be okay,
if ever.
I’ve lost a lot of energy on this one. I have already started putting feelers out for new jobs.
But I’m tired. And discouraged. And disheartened.
Once again, I’ve been treated like trash. And somehow I have to find a way to digest that.

Fate and Free Will

How can fate and free will co-exist?
Let me explain.
I recently had a conversation about my relationship with my son’s father.
And it made me remember another conversation I’d had about my relationship with my son’s father.
This most recent conversation ended something like,
“yes, but you got your son out of it, so that’s something to be thankful for”
That’s true. Can’t argue that my son is the most awesome blessing EVER!
But the conversation I had many years ago (with a different person) went more like this:
“Your son was meant to be in this world, and you and your son’s father had to meet in order
to bring him into this world, beyond that you were just holding on to someone who’d already
served their purpose in your life because you have a problem with letting go”.
AMEN TO THAT!
You see,
Yes-
My son’s father and I were supposed to be together so Douglas could be made
but that took all of four hours one night in October of 1999.
Beyond that my son being brought into this world had nothing to do with me hanging on to his
father for the next ten years.
That was entirely about me not loving myself.
And that’s when it hit me.
Fate and free can, do and were always MEANT to coexist because fate isn’t happening all the time.
It’s like check points on the road map of your life.
a road map you design,
all except for the check points.
Those check points are Fate, when the universe, the lord, the Gods, or whom ever, is saying
HEY! There’s a bigger picture than you going on here and we need you for something at this moment.
Be there.
Anything that happens to us between those check points is our fuckin’ business.
God doesn’t even CARE!
Everyone who’s had a shitty boss knows,
Only Satan micromanages!
God gave us free will to keep us the fuck out of his way until he needs us to get something done.
He doesn’t want us hanging around like sick puppies getting in his way.

And when I speak of God using “He” please realize that I only use this as a pronoun to represent a much larger idea. Insert any pronoun of your choice- she, it, THEY-
it doesn’t fucking matter anyway.
God is WAY bigger than pronouns.
But I digress.
The only time God, or the universe, is judging our behavior is when it’s asked something of us,
a contribution to the larger picture that it needs us to contribute to,
that it, he, she, they will pass judgement for us not getting done.
For example;
God doesn’t care how often you get high.
You can get high any damn day, every day, if you’d like.
But on that day you were supposed to arrive at your check point (Fate),
you better not be on your ass, on your couch gettin’ high.
THAT’S when you find your weed laced with some bad shit and your ass ends up in a hospital somewhere.
And so, hopefully, you learn a lesson.
Serve your purpose.
I don’t think the signs are all that subtle.
We all know when we’re being pulled in a certain direction.
We just don’t always listen to it.
That’s why, I’m sure, God makes back up plans.
Like some where out there at least 5,000 people are going to be tapped to conceive the second coming or the next Dalai Lama or some shit like that,
but because of how often us humans fuck up I’m sure only two are gonna get it right.
Fate has back up plans because of our inconsistencies.
God’s sort of laying ground for any number of possibilities and the one that plays out is the one
that worked the best for what God saw at that time, based upon what we gave him to work with.
If we didn’t show up at our check point, God has plenty of understudies.
The show must go on.
In other words, the people who listen to their fate are the ones that arrive at just the right time.
Stay in tune.
The signs are there.
They were with my son.
I actually could feel myself being exactly where I was supposed to be.
And for days prior, every time I looked around a street corner, I would SEE his father’s truck coming around that corner, even though I knew he was miles away in Florida.
Ever door I walked through I expected him to be on the other side.
I knew he was coming.
It was supposed to happen.
And so it did.
And my son got his right to life.
We served our purpose for the higher purpose.
Beyond that,
it was just me wasting my own time.
Doug was meant to be.
His father and I were not.
And I dug my self a hole by walking in circles around that damn check point.
True, I may have needed to learn a lesson at that check point that I’d have to know to arrive
at my next check point.
But there is NO WAY God determined that it was supposed to take me ten years to learn it.
I don’t think God, if he had time to think about it, wants anymore misery in the world then need be.
He, I’m sure, would have been quite content to have me learn my lesson in say, oh, five months, move
on and have myself a blast for the following nine years and seven months. As long as I arrived at my next check point (Fate) when I was supposed to, he didn’t dictate my suffering.
I did.
I did that to myself.
Because I couldn’t let go.
So the next time somebody says to me,
but at least you got your son out of it,
I will confidently respond,
No.
I got my son out of four hours, one night.
The other nine years, eleven months, thirty days and 20 hours,
was about me being a complete dumb ass.
Hopefully now though,
I’m ready for my next check point 🙂

Broken

If I am broken
and there are only pieces of me
I will make them move in harmony
In place of melody
in sync
despite detachment
walking stride by stride
side by side
and forward
and behind
beating while the others rest
in their turn
so from without
all you would see
Is one whole piece
One whole me
not fragments
but facets of a face
the eyes the mouth the skin the sounds
of one steady beat
sounding from the breast
a chorus of parts
singing one song
forming one beat
and moving on
forward to where ever they’d go
side by side and row by row
fragmented, broken always
never to be fused again
feeling always vulnerable
and at odds
never good or clean or worthy
always from the inside broken and ashamed
but strong enough to figure out
how to move forward anyway
by leaps and bounds of faith

Orpheus On The Train

Orpheus and Eurydice Greek Mythology Original Painting

Eurydice had it good;
true love and muse of the greatest musician of the time.
Man.
Think of that courtship;
new songs and poems every night.
That would have made me fall in love with him.
Sweet.
More then the poems and songs though,
her man went to Hades and back for her.
Even death didn’t stop him from finding his way back to her,
and his way back with her-
almost.
There-in lies the tragedy:
Orpheus almost won her back. He was a step away and lost her forever.
No battle or blade could do what his music did to Hades;
the perpetual grump of the land of the dead,
music moved him and his bitter queen.
Music did what even other Gods couldn’t.
It changed death’s mind.
Almost.
Because Orpheus turned around,
didn’t he?
Right before he was going to win the greatest battle ever waged.
He’d braved the journey to the underworld,
persuaded the impersuadable,
but was too impatient to wait just one more step.
Damn.
My thoughts after I first heard the story long ago:

It’s not fair ( LOL)
Doesn’t he get any credit at all? (Yeah-right)
What about all that way he’d come?
doesn’t that count for anything? (Nope).

But it taught me something.
Faith is a treacherous journey.
It means moving on even after you’ve braved the sandstorm just to find that a mountain stands in front of you after the sands have settled. It means not giving up when you’re absolutely done and completely positive you shouldn’t have to do a lick more work,
when you know you moved that mountain but its back there in front of you again,
when you know you’ve earned the prize but are left without the slightest acknowledgement,
That is when faith must be firmest.
Orpheus’ journey is a lesson in faith.
It warns us that the most treacherous part of the journey is that last length right before the prize.
The tricky part is
that’s when we are most tired,
feel the most beaten,
and it makes the most sense to give up.
But on the train today I was inspired by the sunrise
to think of poor Orpheus and why in the world such a downer of a story would ever be told.
And I remembered,
it was a lesson.
One I needed to be reminded of.
The recesses of my mind came back with an answer to my screaming and aching cries for HELP:
It’s hardest at this moment.
This is the most horrible part.
But if you don’t get through this you’ll be back to your beginning and you’ve come too far to let fatigue and heartache win.
Let the tragedy of Orpheus teach you something.
Because to me the guy had it all;
talent the God’s worshiped and love, real, true love, that had a chance at thwarting death-
But didn’t.
I’m not judging the guy.
Who am I to call him a fool?
I’m sitting all cozy listening to his story,
how do I know how that last foot step of his felt?
I wasn’t in his shoes.
But it teaches me something.
Because it’s meant to.
That Faith is a treacherous road,
and that it gets tougher towards the end,
and despite the fatigue,
the heartache,
the fear,
and the anger we may feel at things being so difficult,
our bodies,
our hearts,
beings so exhausted,
We could loose all we’ve gained if we look back even once.
Life
Is the treacherous road,
and Faith-
It’s a forward motion.