I’ve felt emptied of words — ones executed through my fingers, anyway. I’m still able to talk. Too much, probably. Just ask Joel. Or Kate.
Whenever I tried to write, the spaces in my head reserved for reflection or creativity were filled up with hate, resentment, anxiety, fatalism. All the other cancer blogs seem so hopeful and centered. And also: Not perverse. As usual, I was the dour, damnable odd-man out.
We all battle the fatigue of chemo, the uncertainty of not-knowing-anything-for-sure, but few I’ve read have to push through what happened to me last week.
I used to live in what could be kindly described as a slum motel. Slugs came out at night, leaving their slime across cooking utensils, bathroom sinks and bedroom walls. Fearless cockroaches infested everything, night and day. Some of them were 2.5 inches long. Buildings were under construction on both sides of mine, the racket of pounding and powertools assaulting my ears from 8 AM until 7 PM. I had to pirate my Internet connection but I guess, rather than requiring a password, the owner of the router kept moving it farther and farther away from where I sat, until dialup would have been faster.
But nothing was worse that having a fat, sloppy, semi-retarded building manager shout at me in Spanish for leaving a strip of toilet paper in the bowl. (It had a drop of coffee on it, that’s it, and the bowl itself was clean. I’d just forgotten to flush the paper down.) So when I told him I didn’t understand everything he was telling me, he dropped his pants and mooned me with his giant ass. I guess he was attempting to demonstrate how offensive to him it would be to wipe it with something that offensive just centimeters below his drooping balls.
Now I’ve been in a lot of strange situations in my life, and in some semi-dangerous ones, facing down tripping gypsy drug dealers and belligerent cops, but when that dude dropped his pants in front of me, I felt I’d moved onto a whole new plane of awful. Appalled, I shut the door on him without responding.
So, he kicked it in, and came into my room, fists clenched, gasping in rage.
At some point in the debacle that was Conyers Thompson, a friend of mine, a former Juanele employee, chided me for my choice in business partners and friends, in his case, and said, “Please, Rick, no more crazy people.”
Well, Claire, I had to face down another crazy person but it wasn’t a relationship I chose exactly. And it went steps farther by including violence and suggesting more to come.
Frightened, unnerved and sick of being fucked with, I put out the call to my friends and my good friend and guardian angel, Vivi, began a fundraising drive on Facebook as well as organized an event at a local expat bar, Magdalena’s Party. Besides the space, the bar donated several bottles of vodka plus lemonade to mix it. Lots of folks and businesses also donated items to auction off. There was a raffle at the door. I made a pretty good haul and so at least I can breathe easy for the next two months, I hope, without worrying about how I’ll eat or care for myself.
More importantly, my dear gal pal, Sonya, arranged a place for me to stay and to have her suitcase delivered in person by another salt-of-the-earth type, Stephen, who helped me move. I had been so upset that Sunday before I left the Boedo flophouse that I was nauseous all day and felt like throwing up. As the taxi pulled away from that hellhole, I immediately began to feel better. And better.
Now, instead of stewing in poverty, I’m living in one of Buenos Aires’ most cheto neighborhoods in a private room, my own bathroom and a balcony outside some French doors. Amazing! I couldn’t believe how quickly folks rallied around me. The room has been provided for free by two fabulous and friendly women, an incredibly generous lesbian couple from Australia, who reveal new talents and kindnesses to me daily.
So here I am writing again.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the date for my surgery is two months away now. I thought I would be able to get admitted right away but I can’t even get appointments for the pre-surgery studies until after Christmas. I won’t know for sure for a couple days but in all likelihood I will have to go back on chemo in the interim.
Still, I’m sleeping well for the first time in months, without obsessing over mundanities or crazy ex-bosses. I have plenty of money, thanks to the benefit and lots of a generous people, a safe and clean place to live and plenty of support. They keep moving the goalpost but at least I still have the ball and I’m heading down the field.