Thursday, September 19, 2013

Cancer Sucks

Once upon a time, nearly a full year before anyone anywhere officially suspected that I might be depressed, I was lucky enough to get obscenely drunk and vomit all over an adorable Japanese girl's couch (or possibly her entire living room; you'd have to ask someone who didn't wake up the next morning and wonder why one lens had popped the fuck out of his glasses).

Shortly thereafter, the adorable Japanese girl quickly turned into "my Asian Friend," whose roommate dabbled in stand-up comedy and encouraged me to give it a try at her next open mic. (Considering that I had done my throwing up at their Halloween party, which had also been one of her first dates with a guy she really liked, which was obviously rather ruined by all of the vomit that just kept happening, she would've had every right to want nothing to do with me - but, as I found out later, the guy had "the fugliest penis" she'd ever seen. Also, we bonded over our love of Buffy.)

I didn't make it to the next one, but I did make it to the one after that, which I still remember rather well: It was the day after Christmas. The only guy I've ever genuinely loved* (who had given me his number some months before all the vomit and failed to mention that, despite the 317 area code, he didn't actually live anywhere near Indiana) was just barely completely unable to attend, as his visit began a few days afterward (and ended a few days before the next one, so he also missed it when I told everyone how much I liked it when he teased me for thinking I'm fat). There was only one homosexual in the entire bar, and it was me. My Asian Friend had made me watch the episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia that explores Sweet Dee's attempts to make it through a stand-up routine without (you guessed it) vomiting a few days before; in spite of this excellent example of why she is a perfectly terrible friend, I basically killed it. Everyone loved me.
*Past tense.

No one loved me more than Mary, whose husband was one of the two bastards who made this particular open mic happen where it did. With the possible exception of my Asian Friend, who was naturally the star of my most hilarious bits, she believed in my jokes more than anyone else on the planet.

Comedy has always meant a lot to me. I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to try it out once a month for almost two full years. It taught me a lot and gave me some purpose when I really needed some sort of something, and I'll always be grateful for that. The last time I gave it a shot was right after I took a little vacation from life to put myself through therapy because, hello, suicide attempt. Lots & lots of people were proud of me for going to therapy, but Mary stands out. She didn't just believe that I could do anything once I went through the process and started to get better, she TOOK IT FOR GRANTED.

I thanked her for that, of course, but I should have written her a poem or something.

On September 19th, 2011, the world became a slightly worse place: cancer snuffed the life right out of Mary. Sorry, guys. I'd be typing faster but I'm kind of tearing up right now. My friend Emily (who you may remember as the roommate from earlier) offered to take me to the hospital to see her shortly before that, but I just couldn't do it. Hospitals have more or less given me panic attacks ever since my dad died when I was seven* - and, I don't know, Mary was always so Alive that I couldn't handle seeing her so close to death. (Transitioning out of therapy & back into your regular life - which, thanks to therapy, is yours more than ever now - is obviously quite a delicate time; it's important to be honest with yourself about what you can handle and what you can't.)
*Seatbelts, y'all. They literally save lives. But they don't work if you're too dumb to wear them.

I've been crashing on friends' couches since July; the few possessions that I didn't get rid of when I got the fuck out of Indiana are either stuffed in a suitcase or quietly encroaching on my gay best friend's living room (he and his roommate understand the Element of Generosity better than they realize).

And yet, I could find the program from Mary's funeral in under a minute.

Depending on your perspective, two years is either a really long time or no time at all. Sometimes it's both at the same time, even though that makes no sense. Personally, I've gone through so many changes in the last two years that, other than the name, "now me" and "then me" have almost nothing in common.

For example: Two years ago, I had (just recently) met my BFF, and he had (probably) already given me the perfectly appropriate nickname of Pepper (which, unless you are him, you are not allowed to call me). I had finally given The Vampire Diaries half a chance because the main character's best friend was a witch; Julie Plec wasn't in charge then, so the show hadn't even begun to live up to all or any of its subtly racist potential. I had started watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but it would be a while before I realized how & why the Elements of Harmony (Honesty + Kindness + Laughter + Loyalty + Generosity = MAGIC) could alter my life for the better. I was still feeling warm fuzzies for the second-worst person I have ever met. It had only just begun to occur to me that photography was something I needed to be doing every day for the rest of my life.

And so forth and so on. My point is, few people could possibly hear about any of these changes and be happier for me than Mary would've been. I'm going to start dabbling in stand-up again sometime soon (until then, my Twitter serves as an excellent example of the hilarity that is my head), and that would be exponentially more enjoyable if I could share it with her.


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