Thursday, January 19, 2012


I’ve come to a realization about my life. I’m aging backwards since my breast cancer diagnosis. Or maybe it’s been over the course of the past twelve months? Or it might have begun four years ago when I was helping my sister with my now almost five year old niece? Little kids tend to make adults act silly, or in my case, like a downright idiot.

When and why this began does not matter. The only thing that does matter? This Backward Momentum is just fine with me. I may be mortifying my late 20-something kids and I am apologizing here and now to both of you for being The Mom Who Refuses To Grow Up. That is an all-encompassing apology and will cover every moronic thing I do From Now, To Infinity And Beyond. I’m throwing down The Cancer Card. Just deal.

I’m beginning to understand the concept of coming to a point in life where, (inserting my best Clark Gable voice), frankly, I don’t give a damn. To be perfectly clear, my body most certainly is NOT aging backwards and my brain, when it DOES actually function, still does so in the proper decade. Mostly. I think. And then, I get chemobrain days and I am clearly, “Gone With The Wind,” which somehow makes it perfectly fine to do what horrifies most women. Admit my real age.

FIF-TY-FIVE. There. I. Said. it.

Sounds like it should suck, the age I mean. It doesn’t. Fifty sounded positively horrible when I was in the latter part of my 40’s. I spent at least three years dreading fifty. What a waste of three good years. If you are in that place with numbers, do yourself a favor. Kick back and stop thinking about it. It’s just a number. In my case, when The Dreaded Day arrived, I was a bit preoccupied with other stuff. Surgeries. Doctors. Chemotherapy.

Is it the number 50 or the cancer or my malfunctioning brain or all of the above? Clueless. I just know I am now a fan of things that span generations. I got hooked on that HBO show, Entourage. I am too OLD to watch that show. Yet, I loved it. When the series finale aired, I was DE-PRESSED.

As long as I am mortifying my kids who have no idea I am mortifying them because they are not reading this anyway......I’m also too old to be obsessed with “Hits 1” on my satellite radio?

“Mom, REALLY? Club music?!!? Change. The. Station. ”

I have no business fist pumping, as demonstrated on Jersey Shore and even less business dancing behind the wheel of my car to some guy named Pitbull begging me to give him everything tonight. Pitbull’s voice haunts me. But, driving and dancing? When a truck driver pulls up beside me in an attempt to get me to open my window, yep, time to GROW UP. And admit, somewaht sheepishly to truck driver: Buddy, I was on my way to get a touch up to cover my GREY HAIR.

While I’m on the topic of fist pumping, can ANYONE explain how I found myself in some trendy downtown club seated in the VIP section when those fist-pumping Jersey Shore guys arrived at said club? They were escorted to the sofa right beside me. Ongoing mortification of my unsuspecting kids. It’s Time. GROW UP.  Nah.  That was fun and it was funny and I don't have a sheepish bone left in my body.  And if I weren't having SO much fun, there would be photo proof of The Cougar Meets The Shore.  But alas, once cocktail too many.... missed photo op.

But "Grow Up?" .....  Not so fast. I can be multi-faceted. Cancer has a way of doing that. Drink in the silly. What a waste of MANY years when I felt I had to be “mom” or “wife” or “daughter” or “sister” or “perfect employee” or “whatever”. I am ME. I am AnneMarie. Embracing one to the exclusion of all others? Big mistake.  HUGE!  Lopsided life. Sprinkle some silly on it!  And, I'm NEVER too OLD to be YOUNG!!

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not just some completely off the rails; this woman belongs in the padded room with bon-bon’s and magazines person. I am involved in some very “grown up” things, too. I spent an evening at a volunteer meeting at MSK in absolute awe of the people in the room. Cancer survivors whose stories were nothing short of inspirational and a pioneer female psychiatrist whose accomplishments are so astounding I can’t find a proper thesaurus word to capture how I felt. (And yes, for the record, I did check, not only Word’s thesaurus but a Google’d thesaurus AND my dog eared, yellowed with age desk version, too).

I was in the presence of greatness (Dr. Jimmie Holland, in case anyone can’t take the mystery). It was a small table of a dozen people: miracle survivors and this very brilliant doctor. And me. And this is the beauty of 55 (when I actually manage to ACT 55).  Or, it's the beauty of Cancer. Or, perhaps a chemo affected brain?  Or learning to live in the moment.  Or sprinkling on the silly and NOT taking everything so damn serious.  Some things are not worthy of the effort we expend trying to resolve "stuff."  Some "stuff" is too "silly" and what a waste of energy better spent doing something really productive or just plain being silly.

A few years ago, I would have been intimidated. I would have felt like I did NOT belong, that I had nothing to contribute. I’m not that person anymore. I sat confidently and damn, it felt great. Come to think of it, there was a discussion at the end of the meeting and it began to get a bit tense. A “majority rules” decision necessary and two people with completely oppositional views? Someone was going home unhappy.

I made a suggestion. ME. With chemobrain blocking all chances of overthinking anything, I made a silly suggestion. Problem solved. And I’m being acknowledged and THANKED for my silly solution. By BOTH of the people who were at the polar opposite sides of How Do We Handle This Problem? I felt like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.” You know the scene? She’s in the bathtub and she submerges herself in the bubbles as she shouts, “Holy Shit.”  Any comparison to Pretty Woman is completely & twistedly appropriate.  I'm a validation whore and this was a super score.  Comparison to Julia Roberts?  Utter silliness.  She IS the hot girl, I just deal with heat.......drug induced hot flash heat and you are in hot water heat and I hate the winter so 90 degree heat with blazing sun works, too. 

Pseudo Julia silly me said my goodbyes as the meeting concluded and I got into my car.  The volume on the radio was exactly as it was when I parked.  It was a ridiculous, going to blow the speakers level. Fitting music blaring: Lady Gaga and The Official Anthem of AnneMarie.

Gaga, Pitbull, Jersey Shore? Seriously?! Entourage, however…..thanks for pulling THIS together by closing the series with an all time favorite Led Zeppelin song. It was fitting and it was genius and if those guys could steal a song from my younger days, I’ll just keep aging backwards.

♬ “Standing on a hill in a mountain of dreams telling myself it’s not as hard as it seems.”♫

I’m on the hill, living my dream but mostly, ♫ I’m on the Edge of Glory! ♫  And maybe, I WILL BE “Goin’ to California” but I can assure you, it won’t be with an “achin’ in my heart” …..  It will be with "Paws Up"  yup, definitely, paws up!

PS-I owe a note of thanks to Lani who blogs at ChemoBabe.  WHY I remember this, clueless... but I seem to recall reading something she wrote many months ago about "drinking in the happy" ......   and those thoughts stuck with me..... She's happy and smart.  I'm just silly.  We both, apparently, drink.  I'm guessing me more than she...... And, I had it ALMOST correct... she wasn't drinking....  If you read her blog, she was "filling up on happy" ----  translation and correction... I apparently drink alone.

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