In Which I Am Thankful

Warning: this is another one of those awful end of the year blog posts. My apologies. There’s a new FAQ section up top that is potentially more entertaining than the following.

It’s 75 and sunny as I write this atop my roof, staring at mountains and the Los Angeles skyline. It is Thanksgiving weekend, but it feels like July. If I could say one thing about this year, I would say it feels like July. Time has stopped, the weather is hot, there is suntan lotion on my face: it must be July.

But the turkeys doth protest! It is November. The year is coming to a rapid close.

I am ashamed to note that I have been writing this blog for three years, three years worth of billable hours and insomniac ramblings. At the end of each year, I usually say something to sum up the year. "Well, this year sucked but then everything was okay."

An honest disclosure and then an "it's okay", just in case anyone thought I was ungrateful for my good fortune, or that I failed to realize it could all be so much worse.

I wrote that "everything was alright" even if I was unsure I believed it, because I was in denial, and denial is so very cozy.
Hi Denial! So nice to see you. Is that a drink in your hand?

I've been sick since I was ten months old. I actually don't know anything else. But until a few years ago, I had cried approximately three times about the isolating cycle of doctors, specialists, hospitals and extreme pain. I just didn't cry. It wasn't allowed. I didn't even cry to the shrink my parents sent me to at 16, when they discovered pot under my bed. (I still maintain the marijuana was not mine.) 

Instead of crying, or showing normal emotion, I was a secretive mess of anger and sadness. Three cheers for healthy coping habits!

Sicker than I've ever been, I spent much of the past 18 months bitter I could not relate to the easy, loping gait of my healthy friends and peers. I was jealous of what seemed to be an easy existence. I envied the way they walked quickly and without feeling, how they lifted their legs and moved without pain.

I believed that stoicism equaled strength; that crying constituted weakness; that by divulging the secret that illness devastates, I would not be the Kelly everyone knew. I would not be funny, happy-go-lucky, strong.

It sunk me, this anger and depression. It affected my work, my relationship, my friendships. And my Duane Reade, who got a boost in Xanax sales.

I sought to anesthetize. I drank a lot. I said and did stupid, mean things that I am still struggling to understand and apologize for. I nearly ruined friendships that took years to build. I hurt the person closest to me. I was brutal to myself and I see now that I was brutal to others. (This post should actually be titled: “This year, I’m thankful I was forced into therapy.”)

In August, I moved out of my apartment in New York and came home to recover from July's hospitalization. I went on a trip to Colorado, a trip with fellow cancer survivors that quite literally changed my life. A trip that opened me up to the possibility of living a full life with illness, without denying its existence. And that changed everything.

Living your life twice is no easy feat. But I guess that's what I am trying to do. To remove myself from the past me--the Kelly who dealt with this illness in a shitty way, the Kelly who used it as an excuse for bad behavior, the Kelly who hid. 

I am trying to live again so I am still myself, but a better version of me, someone who does not run headfirst toward self-destruction.

This year I found a good way to go down in flames and then I turned around and found out how to stay away. And I wouldn't have done that without you.

So as the year comes to a close, I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful I live here in LA, a place I need to be. I’m grateful to Solo Survivors and Tracy Maxwell, who sent me on that trip down the Colorado River. I’m thankful for everyone who reads this blog and for the daily encouragement I get from you. The cards, emails, tweets, gift baskets--I am thankful for the love that sailed me through the sick this year. I’m also thankful for Friday Night Lights, just because of this:

Thank you to everyone who tried to be the change I desperately needed, who saw when I was flailing and calmed me. I hope to pay all this love forward.

Into the brightness we go.  


Couch to BENGAY: In Which I Plead for Help

I've been running* on and off since August, when I was beginning to recover from my last hospitalization.

I ran for awhile Monday and then I took Tuesday off because I had to work go eat Mexican food and drink margaritas. (They were only a dollar!)

But for the past two days, I haven't had the energy to continue with my routine.

I am aware that it is hard to get back into shape. And the non-denial part of my brain is aware that this may be harder for someone with my, um, colorful medical history.

HOWEVER, I'm extremely competitive and want to be as good or better than everyone else participating in this stupid 5K! Which I am admittedly only running because there's a pancake breakfast at the end.

I mean, I'm so competitive that I once threw a Monopoly board out my second-story window when I lost a game to my cousins. At age 8, I chucked a Ouija board at my sister's head when we failed to bring John Candy back from the dead. I'm basically like Sydney from this week's Parenthood.


And so when I lose a couple of days to, you know, LUPUS and swollen joints and possible kidney problems (more on that later), I get pissed. And whiny.

I need your help, fellow new runners. I need some inspiration. A video of a three-legged dog running a marathon, or a sweet running playlist. (My current one is all Paul Simon, which contributes to the tears streaming down my face, which I lie and say is sweat.)

So please, dear Internet. Gimme what ya got. Show me what runners are made of.


*My 'running' is really me talking/jogging while screaming WHY GOD WHY and SKINNINESS IS THE ONLY WAY TO WIN MOTHER'S LOVE! (JK Mom, love you.)


Things I Said While Watching Beauty and the Beast

  1. This was totally my favorite movie as a child. I am sure Walt Disney wasn't a misogynist!
  2. Aw, look. Misogyny.
  3. Gaston: not bad. I'd hit that.
  4. Maurice definitely had Alzheimer's, right? Aw.
  5. Do NOT go in the wood, dumbass!
  6. Belle had a one hell of a case of Stockholm Syndrome.
  7. Wait! The Beast is only supposed to be 21 years old!?
  8. THAT is four years younger than me...
  10. Man, Belle’s hair is better than mine. Them some chestnut locks!
  11. Aw, Chip. I totally had a crush on Chip, A CARTOON TEACUP, as a child...
  12. Which explains my current crush on our blender, Bob.
  13. Oh God. It’s midnight on a Saturday. The wine store is closed!
  14. So Belle just falls in love with him even though he kept her captive. Yeah, that's some Patty Hearst shit right there.
  15. This is not as romantic as I once thought--
  17. This is the most beautiful movie ever.
  18. You know, aside from the Beast’s mullet, and misogyny, and that really scary tower scene...
  19. Oh God. I'm going to die alone.


    Four Weeks, One Day: a Non-Poem

    Things have changed
    so I suppose
    I have changed them.
    And maybe
    I have changed too.
    This year's theme might just be change.

    The night gets cool here
    and smells crisp,
    like home.
    I'm often without a coat,
    because the days are so warm.
    I was sunburned yesterday sitting outside,
    writing at a cafe,
    looking at celebrities.
    Or their husbands.

    There are a lot of beautiful people here,
    but I do not resent the effort it takes to live here,
    the way I did in New York.
    And it does take effort!
    Effort to truck across town,
    to wait at a light for twenty minutes.
    The traffic here is as bad as they say,
    but the moments between moments
    are savored.
    Forced quiet
    forced thought
    forced optimism.

    There have been bad days,
    and last week I was so sick and delirious
    I almost booked a flight home.
    In the thick of the sick (ness),
    I forget life on the outside.
    Those days, it doesn't mean anything to me
    to feel the burn of the sun marking your skin.
    It is forgotten.

    But I'm back outside now,
    and breathing this different air.
    This new air snaking through my body,
    whistling and moving.
    It feels like my body is
    finally settling
    into itself.
    The house that creaks has history.

    I am glad to be here.
    and feeling
    in Los Angeles.

    That being said, I miss the shit out of NY. Especially after watching this:

    A Year in New York from Andrew Clancy on Vimeo.