Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's not about the money, it's about what it means

I sent my dad last week, before all this, a spreadsheet with my projected expenses and the total I thought my loans were at with him for school.

I was kind of worrying. I'm down to my last 500 Euros or so. Not enough for rent for the upcoming month. I had kind of worried, in a selfish way, what would happen if he died. How would mum know how to transfer funds to my account to get me out of the country and back home? For all my whorish tendencies, I still seem to have a line drawn when it comes to dancing or sex work. I'm not sure what that line entails. I've often dreamed of being given money in exchange for my blowjobs, instead of some other half-assed interest or champagne or taxi fare. But something keeps stopping me from pursuing this avenue. Or, perhaps, I'm not driven enough.

Regardless, I had kept a reserve in the US bank and knew I'd get by on it for the coming weeks, despite the horrible exchange rate.

I don't live a life of luxury, but there are certainly things I can do without. And I feel constantly guilty and beating myself up for not making income. I hate debt. Never had it until now. Never wanted to be that kind of American.

And, here I am... being so goddamn selfish and worried about my own survival. I was just now sitting on the balcony thinking, well, now's a good a time as any to start asking for payments. If only I were actually fucking people. Now's as good a time as any to go get a job at Breakfast in America or Shakespeare & Company. It's not that I couldn't get a "real" job, it's just that the track was on for this film thing. I was aiming to push it around and had been doing the leg work research for this goal.

There I am. Thinking this. And thinking about how every little daughter still sees her Daddy as Superman, despite his faults. (Or the potential of Superman.) Yet, now, he'll be my Superman with a pee bag on his saddle. Or, with his hair falling out. My dad's lovely salt and pepper hair, that when it grows a bit too long starts to wave and curl.

I never meant to write about cancer. But there are 200 registered cancers. "Hello. Are you new? Let's register you into this book for posterity sake." It's more common to die from cancer, I bet, than a bus hitting you. It seems like it's become a fact of life. I wonder if the previous 500 years had its own cancers that just weren't treatable with a CT scan, dye, chemo, and surgery. We just, well, died back then.

And there I am. Thinking this, between thinking and trying not to think of it by watching Pirates of the Caribbean 2. And I send off a random SMS to my dad because I heard from a friend that it's good to send messages when you can't be present physically: I love you dad.

In return, I get an email:
From: my dad
Subject: Money
Message: Have you checked your bank account this week? Just some to keep you going. Love, Dad

Of course, I cried. I'm a selfish little girl.

Of course, I checked the account. The money was transferred on Monday, the day we showed our parents the photo reenactment, the day before the surgery.

In return, I send the email (after many, many tears and sobbing and deliberations under the stars):
From: me
Subject: RE: Money
Message: I'll need it to settle things here and come home. :)
It's time, and I know people and job offers in Chicago and Minneapolis.. DC, NYC, SF... it's good to be connected to the world.


I miss you and I love you.

I lied about the job offers. But it doesn't matter. It might be good to be the one without a demanding job, spend some time with my mum during dad's chemo. Capture their stories - because, boy, do they have 'em! Figure out next steps as we see my dad through transformation.

Maybe. Just maybe. This is a chance to not be so goddamn selfish.

(Move: ahead one space.)


I've had two "Bladder Cancer" tabs open in my browser for a day now.

My dad called me after my mum and sister had gone for lunch. He was even-toned and all matters-appropriately-considered. His blood pressure hasn't been this low in a long time, he said.

"You must like being hospitals then, dad."

"Well, I do. I've always liked my annual military check-up. It's kind of a competition. Not with others, but with my own health. See where I'm doing better, where I'm not doing so well. Although, as a kid growing up in the military, I didn't have good experiences with dentists. So, it's taken a long, long time for me to be able to sit in a dentist chair with more than just my toes and head touching it. This, it's not so bad. Kind of curious. We got to see high definition photos of the bladder. It's kind of neat."

That's my ol' man. I suppose that's where I get my keenness for endurance kink and my competitive streak.

They released him from the hospital this evening (Paris time). He'll go across the street to the hotel, have a meal, change his pee bag and take care of the catheter (for which my sister said she didn't express much interest in learning to help). He's got to drink a ton of liquids because the dye they'll use for tomorrow's CT scan can affect the kidneys if there's not enough fluids in the body. 7am. CT to pinpoint the scope of the cancer.

Dad explained it to me on the phone, but I'd already heard about it from my sister and the Mayo "Bladder Cancer" pages. At this point, it's likely they'll remove his bladder, and probably his prostate, and, if the cancer has spread, the lymph glands in the area. He was all very contained in describing it. We all are in my family - a bit of control freaks. The doctors told him that they could reformulate a bladder using a part of the intestine (which I'd read on the website, too).

We'll find out tomorrow what the state of his insides are.

Tonight, I might go out. I might stay in. There's nothing I can really do. Sure, I could start seriously job hunting for jobs in the Chicago/Minneapolis area - or just back in the mainland. And, I'd move back in an instant for my family. And, I probably will. There's no way I could stay over here with my dad undergoing chemo or another surgery without me being able to talk to him, hug him, smell him, and feel his smile.

But, for now, I can't seem to think about these things. I just feel stuck. Stuck in a kind of marshmallow way. I have an email poised and ready to be sent to the director of our program regarding his incorrect assumption that they have copyright of our film because they funded it. I've stopped the search for ideas for showing and selling the film. I've not written the TV Producer back when he asks to see me again and that he's got comments on the film. I haven't written a word for the upcoming Saturday afternoon "The Other Writers Group" at Shakespeare & Company - was thinking to go with a piece of writing to share and get feedback.

Everything on hold. But still moving along the spaces on the board.

Waiting for time zones

My sister says not to book a panic ticket back to the States. My mother couldn't come to the phone at all yesterday.

I couldn't understand what to do with myself last night.

It doesn't feel like a board game, where you miniaturize yourself into a little pink or blue peg with a round head, as each space offers you a new car, a wife or husband, one to three children, a mansion or a shack. It seems more like I just keep moving one space ahead, and all the questions about why or how struggle inside my little pink head. Like, the whole board connects and there really is no roll of the dice or choosing a card from the deck to determine next moves.

Why did I not move to Switzerland when Mr FD was offering? I had rational explanations: Paris is a more central hub from which to work, I need my own apartment / space, I don't think I'm slave material, etc. But the feelings underneath, surrounding me, swirling around my head as I lay floating in the sea - those feelings never really found explanations for themselves. Even as I tried to describe them to close friends, I couldn't solidly comprehend them.

Why was the vacation with my sister so meaningful? We grew closer than ever before. We took a day trip out of Amsterdam into a small city on the shore to reenact a photo from our youth, a surprise we gave to my parents two days ago.

Why did I choose to stay in Paris? One by one and in groups, my colleagues who have been my closest friends over the past two years have left the city. For two weeks, I've questioned the night sky about my loneliness, about community, about the curious desire for intense friendship.

Why did I visit the TV Producer? When I left his apartment, one sigh was of relief for releasing pent-up sexual frustration, the other sigh was for the old pattern: trading my ability for a lengthily, labor-of-love cocksucking for a short ride on his lap that ended before I began.

Why did the Butcher and I reinstate our friendship? Our dinner and drinks before he left for Asia led to me crying in his comforting arms. Last night, we were supposed to have dinner and drinks. I pushed it back to just drinks, and then cancelled, feeling like I should stay home to hear how dad's surgery was going. My sister called 15 minutes after I should have been at the Buther's apartment, "You home?"

It seems that, for me (not applicable to everyone) things have a way of just happening. I'm not commenting on quality of these events or feelings, and I'm not saying it was destiny that my father get bladder cancer (if it's that). But these little spaces on my board game seem on the one hand, predetermined, and on the other hand, whispering warning signs or encouragement to assist my free will.

And, now, well, right now, I have no idea what to do with myself. Last night, after I did and didn't do as much as I could (not booking a panic flight, but telling my landlord I might return to the States for a week or forever), all I could finally do was take a sleeping pill and drift off with the phone in my hand and "Pirates of the Caribbean" tallying ho in my ears.

My sister called at about 4am. Our father was out of recovery and was awake, but totally incoherent in his post-anesthesia dream land. She said he sounded like grandma, his mom who is slowly sinking into Alzheimer's and who rambles on about disconnected subjects and tells disjointed stories. Apparently, the hospital staff mistook this as a signal that our dad was fine, alert, and comprehending the situation. "Clearly," my sister said "they do not know dad." He's never a rambler. He deliberately chooses the words to explain his thoughts, even if it takes hours to tell a story about a trip to the grocery store. He was obviously not wholly conscious and probably didn't know what was going on in the slightest.

She said the doctor thought a CAT scan would be next in order and she urged him to schedule it now. I guess this idea hadn't occurred to him - they're so used to following procedure.

So, now, I wait. I wait for the 10,000 lakes to wake up.

I took a shower, fed myself, did laundry, and started a new book. These seem so mundane, but they're taking more effort than usual. When I indulge myself, I'm sick with guilt that I'm on this gourmand holiday while my sister and mother cry in the stale, air conditioned hallways of the hospital.

And then, just now, the next space on the board: he's awake, eating, feeling well and doctors will visit in a couple of hours.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Strange how life goes

From: my dad
Time: 2:22pm (Paris time)
Subject: Time to proceed
Message: Well, I am dressed and Mom is out of the shower. We have to be across the street in 45 minutes. Time to make my life be better and safer. I will be in REALLY great hands. Will talk to you tomorrow. Love you. I really appreciate your thoughts. Dad

And 9 hours later, we find out he’s got a tumor on his bladder and it’s most likely invasive and cancerous.

The brain acts in such interesting ways when it receives such information. Shock, yes. Automatic pilot, yes. My sister is telling me this on Skype, but the connection is bad. I ask her to hold on a second, cross the hallway and ask the neighbor to stop using his internet for a few minutes. (I’ve been squatting on it for 2 years now.) What did my sister just say? Something bladder. Something about Thursday and some tissue and some results. What’s going on?

And I’m so far away. That’s the kicker. I love this guy more than anything and have purposefully distanced myself from my family to live a life of wonder and lust and adventure. And all this feels so goddamn selfish right now. I wish I could be by his side with my mother and sister as he wakes up. Surrounded by love, by all his family members. Instead, I keep thinking good thoughts and hoping that he can feel them and appreciates them still.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My dad

He was a cusser when I was growing up. Military highly ranked officer. Republican. Strict.

He was forced to retire from the military when he came up against a moral dilemma. His superior was requesting that he do something that would have compromised my dad’s values. We don’t talk about it and he can’t share details.

Many years after his retirement, well when I was out of college and into working for justice through a non-profit, he started to change. He didn’t vote for Bush the second time. He worked hard against the ban on gay marriage. He worked hard for the Dem party. He and I started getting along better than ever, sharing stories, talking as adults, respecting each other. He often told me how grateful he is for his two daughters, who have taught him so much in his life.

Well, he’s going into surgery tomorrow. A routine procedure, I guess. Having his prostate removed as it has been pressuring his urethra and blocking his kidneys so that they’re now reduced in function. The doctors took his blood pressure today, and while he’s on meds to lower it, today he struck a wonderful low. A surprising low, considering the circumstances.

He’s in the best of medical care, and lucky to be so. I love the guy with all my heart, and being all the way across half the USA, the great pond, and some distance into France, I’m worried.

If you could, Tumblr world, please think some good thoughts for this guy on Tuesday. I would wholly appreciate it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Caved and Joined

Twitter: @lolacdoa

On another note, going to Queer X Show tonight - sex performers, cabaret, spoken word, and a bunch of queer girls and boys and check-the-box-for-other/s.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Because life is short

Drinking 1999 Tenuta San Guido Bolgheri-Sassicaia, average price for a 750ml bottle 180$.

Last summer, I had two dates with an older gentleman who flew private jets. I never fucked him, but slept in his bed. In the morning, he gave me two bottles of wine from his temperature-controlled cellar.

I have no reason for popping the cork at this instance.


I just watched Rushmore.

(posted on Tumblr)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

it was just for work


I met with the TV Producer because I had questions about the film I'd made with my team for the graduation project - legal questions, how-to questions, and wanted him to have a taste of it and see if he liked it.

A few months back, I'd been in his neighborhood and sent him an SMS. He said he'd met someone but would still like to see me sometime. He sent an email a month or so later that he still felt the same. But I was - ahem - tied up with Mr FD, my heart and mind wrapped around our possibilities and, in comparison and context, the TV Producer's spanks didn't seem like they could measure up. Nor did I want to try it.

But here we were. He offered me champagne to celebrate my graduation. We talked film shop and then about our lovers. I felt flushed and drunk, and like he was staring through me as I told superficial details about my homestays with Mr FD.

And then I asked him about Beatrice Ardisson's "Take Me for a Ride" album. I'd pressed upon him that I'd looked all over for the album to buy it, but couldn't find it.

He searched and searched his stacks of discs. We had listened to it every time I was over before, but now, it seemed telling that it was buried or lost or misplaced. He found it and let me burn it. He found the accompanying film - made for Audi - and played it on the TV, giving him an excuse to move from the opposite couch to my side.

When it finished, there wasn't much left to say. He was interested in viewing my film, but we didn't have much to talk about it, except to confirm that my fight for copyright was right (against the director of our program, who all of a sudden seems compelled to share it / own it / have copyright with us).

"Well, I should go," I said.

He reached over. "Let me see the scars from his cigarette burns."

I pulled my left tit out of my shirt and showed him as if he were a doctor, removed from any sentiment. He touched it and reached for the other one. He felt for the scars and rubbed my nipples until they were hard. I leaned back and sighed. Closed my eyes. It had been a month since I'd been touched. Since Mr FD. I hadn't come to the TV Producer's place with intentions of screwing, as I thought he was deep in with this other woman. I wasn't offering a move. I had resigned myself to leaving fully clothed and non-altered.

He put my hand on his pants and asked me if I could feel how hard he was.

It doesn't take much for a slut to get on her knees.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

it's so hot in Paris

that all the shutters are open tonight
turning the city from grey to warm yellow
the swallows are screaming
as they intertwine and play
and hunt in the sky
it's so hot in Paris tonight
the cat calls on the street
are barely murmurs

it's gotta be the heat

Street Hassle
I wanna go Gonzo
walk the wire
call up randomly
smoke and drink
scream from the pier
until the words
just type themselves

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Overdue and underdone

My lord it's been a while for posting here.

Homestay in Switzerland ended. I graduated in Paris. (No, no, please don't call me Master.) Then, took a jaunt through Cinque Terre (where I could spend the rest of my life if it weren't 3 hours to the nearest airport -- and that's if the trains are running), Prague, and Amsterdam. Most of my comments during this time were on Tumblr so go have a look - photos there, too.

Not so much sexy sexy fun during those days, nor during these days. I'm mostly consumed with figuring shit out. Yeah, free from the grips of grad school and now I have no idea what to do. A slight pre-mid-life crisis as it were. Ideally, I'd love to take the next three months and do something with my graduate project (a documentary film), write the CDOA book I've been longing to write for years and years and years and years, and make a photo portfolio. What about public policy and the years of study? Well... well.. well. It'd be lovely to combine it all and go off into the world as a premier political photojournalist. Can a dream deferred come true? Or, was it a dream in the making? Ten years ago in December, I graduated from college with a double-major in photography and Spanish. At lunch with my parents and sister, my father asked me what I'd like to do now. "Work for National Geographic."

I'm revisiting that idea.

Or, perhaps, it's resurfacing in me.