Tag Archives: dream

A chemo dream

I’m listening to answering machine messages. Mother says, “Take care of your cousins”.  Cousin A says, “so sad”. Cousin P says, “Crying, crying”.  They are talking about the death of my grandmother, which was ‘way back in the early 90s.  I’m thinking, That was years and years ago, how could you still be crying, why would you want to?

Now I’m in the car with my brothers; it’s the next day. At first, I think it’s Orlando, yet it’s not because my grandmother’s house in Queens (NY) is nearby. It is morning, and the sun is coming up to our left, which means we are headed south. It is reflecting, glaringly so, off these fancy buildings – one of them seems to be the Dolphin hotel, but no, it is shaped quite differently and the infrastructure of it (holding all this freakin’ glass together) is like white PVC pipes.  The glare has slowed down traffic immensely, and I’m thinking it should not be allowed, to make buildings like that so close to a major thoroughfare that it would cause danger to drivers.

Now I am in the clinic, and Dr. Karen S. comes out to get me.  I am surprised because 17 years ago, she was my radiation doctor, but I’m here to get chemo.  I don’t know why a radiation doctor would be administering chemo. She brings me in and I start asking questions about side effects.  There is a nurse there assisting her in discussing this with me.  It is Christa, one of my internet Disney geek friends! I ask if I will be too tired to drive myself home after – I can always drive to my grandparents house and crash there, I say, but Karen says I won’t be all that tired until later that night.  I get to the most important, most burning question – will I lose my hair? Karen looks away and says, “That’s what it looks like” and I’m like, “muthafucka…” under my breath, but out loud I say how I finally have a haircut I really like….  As she hangs the bag and prepares the needle, Christa kids that they will top off my cocktail with some fancy hair conditioner.

The alarm goes off.

ANALYSIS / REACTION

I was diagnosed on 10/12/1992, which is my older brother’s birthday.  The anniversary of the death of my grandmother, which was several years prior, I believe is around the same time, maybe 10/10 or 10/11.

For the casting decisions in this dream, I’m applying the technique that everyone in the dream is me, or some aspect of me. We can clearly see that even after all these years, I am still somewhat concerned about cancer, and I still miss my grandmother.  I do tend to become impatient with myself when I behave in ways that reveal what I perceive as weakness.  Actually, that’s my mother talking.  I know that, yet I still feel impatient and scornful of myself for my own vulnerabilities.  Other people are allowed to have them, sometimes, but me, NEVER.  Here, I feel like my cousins are either wusses, or else they are liars, being overly-dramatic, mourning my grandmother’s death like it was yesterday instead of 20-ish years ago.  That’s DEFINITELY my mother talking.  I am so intolerant of myself.

I also have other fish to fry.  Why “Mother” thinks I should take care of **them** when **I** am the one headed off for chemo, is beyond me.  I have tended to do this through life – distract myself from my own shit by taking care of other people’s shit.  Notice that I don’t do that here.  I just listen and then go about my business.  I also cast my brothers as my posse, my “backup” – I did watch “About A Boy” last night, which is about building your support system, your tribe, so you’ll have “backup”.  The person who wrote the “Wear Sunscreen” speech had it right -“Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.”  I know I can count on my brothers.  And there they are, my personal entourage, “I’m feeling alright, I’m with my boys, I’m with my troops, yeah”.  That’s Paul Simon’s “Late In The Evening” and yes, damned near everything reminds me of a song.

On the way from our house on Long Island to my grandmother’s house in Queens, we had to pass the World’s Fair grounds in Flushing Meadow Park.  The World’s Fair was in 1964-1965 and Walt Disney had a hand in designing it.  He also had a few attractions there, such as Carousel of Progress and It’s a Small World.  I loved going to the World’s Fair and remember quite a bit of it, even though I was quite small at the time.  I guess this is why I think it’s Orlando while we are on our way to the clinic and passing my grandparents’ house.

Christa cracks a joke, even while she prepares the implements of destruction and unhappiness. Isn’t that so like me? I will find something either ironic or ridiculous about every situation. Sometimes, it’s to make me feel better, but much of the time, it’s to make others feel better. Taking care of others does seem to be a theme here….

As to the dangerous situation that impedes traffic – I got nuttin’, except maybe that’s cancer itself.  It did throw me off the track of what I’d been striving towards at the time (singing career). But there’s a distracting, blinding aspect to it, and the blindness is what creates the danger. What has blinded me, and what is it that I cannot see? Is it that I cannot see, or is it that I *will* not see? And why is not seeing it so dangerous?

Anyone? Buehler? (that’s an invitation to comment, please!)

Why is Dr. S. doing chemo now?  There’s something not right about that…. if she is me in this dream, well she’s doing something really important, yet radically different from what she did before.  Either she was doing the wrong thing before, or else she’s doing the wrong thing now.  There are people in this world that would say the same of me – they’d say, “I don’t know why a poet-star would be playing Madam Vice President at a bank”.  I cast her in the wrong role in this dream, I did.  Poor “Karen”! 

“Poet-Star” just popped into my head – it’s the name of a poem I wrote, ‘way back in 1979.  The pertinent verses:

One girl lives with music and another lives with death.
One girl’s counting money while another holds her breath.
One girl is a poet, is a singer, is a star.
She searches for a galaxy that seems so very far.
She wants to be the center of a universe somewhere.
She wants to be with sunshine, but it’s raining over there….

The poet, singer, star was always me. The other girls were all friends of mine, people who aspired to be a musician, a nurse, a banker and someone who was in sort of a holding pattern at the time. But how prophetic – today, you could say they are ALL me, pieces of me at points in time. I studied voice and performed for 20-something years. I had cancer, a brush with death. I am, indeed, Madam Vice President at a bank. Waiting, waiting, waiting…. for what? For “something”…

Don’t get me wrong. I have a good life, one that is largely of my own making, a fact that is personally pretty satisfying. But clearly (and on several different fronts), I’m not where I’d intended to be, all those years ago, and the urge to fix that, to embark upon a terrifying course-correction, is going to come to a point of critical “mass”, probably soon.

I do believe cancer is only a metaphor this time. Actually, it was a metaphor last time, too, only it manifested into reality, somehow.

“Something’s coming…..”. I will need to remember the entire verse this time, so it manifests into what will make me happy.

Something’s coming!
I don’t know
what it is
but it is gonna be great!

You know what, I do too know what it is. But it’s terrifying. I have that awful/exhilarating adrenaline rush that you get AFTER you just narrowly avoided a car accident. I’m shaking while typing this. I never shake. Shit.