Sunday, December 7, 2014

To Dréa On Her 34th Birthday

Traditionally, I do this as a note on facebook, but this year is new and so the format should be a bit different.  It started a few years back and I guess some people are rather used to it. So much so that I got several messages about it.  I was going to do an update about being a future former fat girl, but talking about the weight I lost and then gained and then kind of lost and then KINDA regained can wait.  I've only got a couple of hours left in my birthday and since I basically slept the day away (hey! Don't read too much into that; I had other adventures leading up to it and there are tons of things planned for the weeks after it), I figured, I could do SOMETHING productive. So I drug myself from the comfort of my books, blankets, birthday pizza and one last cup cake(Oh,Tesh, you don't know what you've done to me with those cupcakes!) with a cup of coffee and here I sit to pontificate and remunerate. 

I almost let this year go by. Honestly, the call of the sheets and pillows was so strong that I could have stayed in bed until today was tomorrow and never batted an eye. But alas you’ve been haunting me since the moment a sweet voice sang “happy birthday” at midnight.  What wisdom do you have for me this year? What words of encouragement, adventure, and bravado will you spew into the universe on this 34th anniversary of your arrival on this planet?

You weren’t the only one, among the myriad of birthday wishes via social media, email, and text messages also came the entreaties of “hey, did you write a letter to yourself this year?  Where is the letter to you from you?

I’ve kind of circled around the idea all day and thought to myself, “What can I say to you that we don’t already know? Haven’t already looked each other in the eye and said a million and one times before?”

I thought of a couple of quotes I’d seen recently.  One by Jose Chaves
“I’m done chasing after better versions of myself, as if I’m never good enough as is: I’m tired of taking myself back to the store, and saying, I’m broken, flawed, or not what I wanted; from now on, I’m going to take myself out in whatever condition I’m I, and fly myself like a kite, high above the rooftops and say, “ I love being this crazy fucking kite, and there’s never going to be another one like it again.”
I think that one is pretty self explanatory; it comes on the heels of so many pep talks from so many wonderful people. Encouragement that I’ve tried to absorb but for some reason there was this barrier, that just wouldn’t let it truly sink in.  I know I’ve been trying so hard to put on this face… this façade of confidence bold as brass. Vibrant and open, but truly inside I’ve been trying to meld myself into whatever shape, mold that would be most acceptable. Most palatable to those I wanted to please.  I wasn’t satisfied, not because I wasn’t satisfied but because I still felt I had to be and do what was expected. I needed to dance even though I knew the song wasn’t right. I needed to go through all the steps, or at least pretend to practice them even though I knew I didn’t know what the fuck the moves were supposed to be. I needed this year to give the perception of having it together. Of being on track, not because I was and not because anyone told me I had to be, but because after being off the rails for so long, I felt like people were tired of waiting on me to “get on board”.
I’m over that.  Being on board. Being glued together. Smiling as a bandaid.  I’m also over a lot (probably not all) of the false bravado, the whiskey courage, the fake it till I make it.  I’m just going to be me. Broken, bent, bruised, battered, brazen, bold, belligerent, bossy, bitchy, brainy, bullheaded and bound to fuck it up:  Me!

The other thing I saw was a poem by Tyler Knott Gregson,“ I just may be the strangest person you will ever know. I am filled with too many oddities and too few consistencies and I will always lack the spongey filter that should live between brain and mouth. These defining traits these enduring characteristics and these fingers crossed that in all of it, you will find them irresistible.”

That poem pretty much lets you know that my “declaration” above isn’t carved in stone.  I will probably always be a mix mash of contradictions. I am ok with that. 

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank my heart. Something magical has happened in the weeks leading up to this birthday. And while I’m not sure if I’ll ever be ready to share with the world I can say this, my heart…my cup runneth over.

So to Dréa on her 34th birthday, I say this:
Dear Dréa,
As always it has been a long and adventurous trip around the moon.  You’ve accomplished nothing and everything, and that too is uniquely usual for you. There are so many things to say to encourage yourself this year. So many platitudes and mantras; they mean everything and nothing all at once.  You’ve discovered who you are and who you aren’t. Who you wish you were and who you’ll never be.
You’ve closed doors and given witness to wounds. You’ve opened cans and boxes and jars, even knowing the destruction that would come.  You’ve gained understanding and you’ve thought yourself into even more confusion.
You’ve been fabulous and fierce. You’ve been weak and weary. You’ve been wonderfully dreadfully human. And today, on the beginning of your thirty-fourth trip around the sun, you’re just as (un)prepared as you should be for what this world has to offer.
You’re on the cusp of greatness as you’ve always been.  On the tight rope of life just like every other poor sucker out there.  Keep your eyes forward and worry about yourself. It’s the only way to make it. In years past you’ve worried about others even when they themselves have warned you not to. Time to take that to heart. Now, that doesn’t mean I want you to turn in to a stone cold bitch, it just means it’s truly time to put you first.  Not just petty wants and desires, but real goals…not the goals that you spout of like rhetoric because you know how to impress, but what’s really in your heart. Whatever moment  you are in, LIVE IT! LIVE THAT MOMENT OUTLOUD AND ON PURPOSE DRÉA!  If you’re sad be sad. Feel it without regret. When you’re happy be happy! Be ecstatic. Be unapologetically alive. Buy those shoes because they are hawt to death!
Oh and get on that treadmill, not because you have to or anything but because you really do feel good when you do it.
And those little secrets you’ve been keeping. Those are cool as fuck. I like those…scratch that I LOVE THOSE! Enjoy them and know that just like the secrets have said “it’s no body’s business but ours.” 
Those people were that said you share too much are right. Not because they were right, you don’t share too much in the sense they mean, but you share too much in the sense that you keep nothing for yourself. You give away all that you have to give and leave nothing for yourself. Stop that.  Keep something in reserve. Some energy stashed away like a coveted candy, imported from the fartherest reaches of the realms. Hell girl, there is a chocolate AND a pork shortage. BE GREEDY!  Be greedy with yourself, if only just a little bit. 
Be a hermit, no code black warning systems just ghost.
Bask in the love of Alpha/Prime . MonaLisa smile at the thought of people trying to figure that out and how wrong they are going to be because you like to tease and you know it.
There are so many things that I could say to us today, some of them I’m not ready to put on a page for the world to see let alone acknowledge between you and me o’girl, but you know what’s in our heart.
I leave you with this thought, this wish, this prayer:
Be Happy Dréa, you deserve it.

Happy 34th Birthday,
You, Me, Us.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Confessions of a Future Former Fat Female

Confessions a future former fat female…

Day one:
Well, its not really day one. I think day one is the day that you decide that enough is enough, that it is finally time to do SOMETHING.  But today is day one of the new diet life style change.  AKA don't eat that eat this.

Thanks to Zac Smith here is the plan: I'm changing  the way I eat (which means going from one or two meals a day to 6 portion controlled meals spread out through the day)  and getting active (45 mins of cardio before meal one). The menu is set for the next 4-8 weeks. Hopefully by the half way point it will be habit AND I will be in the gym regularly.

Before I tell you how it’s going let me list out my fears. Why list them? A good friend told me that if you speak your fears out loud you can analyze and confront them more easily.
So here they are:

*Failure… I’m afraid to fail… I've said that I was going to do this many times before. Hell, I think I've blogged about it. And I've failed.  Not only did I fail, I failed in the most spectacular of ways. I gave up. I didn't have the motivation to really do it.  I didn't have the back bone to keep going when I knew I should. Sometimes I even took a small measure of success (a lost inch or pound) as  a reason to stop.

*Floppy skin: Don’t laugh. I have a fear of excess skin. Losing weight (thanks biggest looser and like shows for scaring me) especially a rapid weight loss CAN leave behind excess skin. I don’t know about anyone else but my insurance doesn't cover that!  Where am I gonna put that? (OK, you can laugh…I laugh ((albeit nervously)) it’s a silly fear. I’m still scared of it.

*Judgment:  Gyms theoretically are for people who are trying to get fit. But we all know there is a sense of dread that every future former fat person has about working out in public spaces. We already know we are fat and out of shape and we imagine that every person who is pumping iron or spinning their legs like the cast of Scooby Doo™  or bending into impossible yoga poses with perfect form is staring at us, judging us.  Most of them aren’t. Some of them are former fat people. Some of them are future fat people. How many times have we seen pictures of people trying to get in shape on social media as the butt of jokes? No one wants that for themselves. 

*Bland boring food:  dude, need I say more. I’m short fat and southern. I’m a self proclaimed foodie. I not only like to eat/taste. I like to cook it. I’ve know all year I was going to get to a point where I didn’t want to be fat. Every time I started to join a gym or contact a nutritionist; I ate a donut to appease my insulted taste buds and wipe the thought from my memory. I know I’ll eventually get back to the point where I can eat whatever I want (within portion controlled reason), it’s the giving it up for now(insert blue man groups I’m blue and come to the revelation that he says  “if I were green I would die”) that has me sad.

OK so that’s some of what I’m scared of,  but what I’m even more afraid of is not getting healthy. I don’t mind dying but I’m not ready to go yet. And I definitely don’t want to go for keeling over trying to walk through the mall or grocery store or worse watching TV on my couch.

I’m afraid of being 5’7 (ish) and having measurements that read 56-54-57. I don’t feel like a brick house. Hell, I don’t even feel like a barn.  I feel like an over inflated beach ball.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that I’m cute. I know I can dress for my body shape and turn heads in a positive light. I know that my husband loves every dip and curve, but I DON’T love it anymore.  I tolerate it because the options are tolerating it or change it. I’m ready to change it.

I want to be able to do a full 45 minutes on the tread mill.  What’s more I want to do it without stopping. Without crying because I have to slow the program down. Without nearly flying off the back and making Dréa shaped holes in the wall.

So today is day one. I only managed 20 minutes on the treadmill this morning, but that’s 20 minutes I haven’t done in years. I don’t like quinoa flakes and almond milk. Not even with Honey. But I’m determined to go choke them down (along with vinegar water) because if choking them down means I can get to be LESS of me, then lets do this.

So here are the stats…( I don’t know when I’ll up date them).
Dréa Riley
Age 33(almost 34)
Height 5’7”(ish)
Weight 310 (actually the scale said less yesterday but let’s just be safe)
Bust 56”
Waist 54”
Hips 57”

Thighs 34”


 (this is me excited to be smaller)   If you're interested in getting Zac's help you should check him out at  Other wise I'll see you guys for an update next month on my 34th Birthday!

*DISCLAIMERS: I don't know Zac Personally. I searched through all the hotties that I'm exposed to on FB and via my writer friends and bam there he was. I liked his story. I liked the fact that he gives zero fucks and isn't afraid to say so.  I haven't purchased a personalized work out plan.  Because I'm a realist. I gotta be able to MOVE before I can jump into circuits and reps and sets and all that lingo. That's my goal for my birthday next month: to have the ability and energy to be in the gym regularly with a customized plan of action as well as meal plans. For now, he customized a meal plan for me and suggested I get started getting off my ass ( he didn't say it that way. he was actually really sweet and said " I want you to make a big effort to get more active and start going for walks. Walking the dog or anything subconsciously will be burning calories. For maximum results when shredding body fat, I suggest doing cardiovascular exercise upon waking up without eating meal 1. This is called fasted cardio. I advise you do this! ") and get active.   I'm going for it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October isn't just about awareness

every year I repost this short that i wrote... somewhere... hoping that where ever it randomly falls, someone finds it and finds meaning..... this years i'm blasting it from ever blog i can....

It was nearly Christmas. You could smell the holiday in the air. Frost

and snow covered everything outside and inside the house was filled with

tantalizing aromas of ham slow roasting with a honey glaze. The fire was

bright and cackling and all the traditional decorations for Christmas were

artfully placed by three well meaning, if over excited bundles of joy. One

would expect to hear the children clamering down the hallway, glasses or

mugs clicking in toast, laugter and conversation. Yes, thats what one would

expect, but the opposite was true. The room was warm but silent, save for the

occasional ruffle of clothing or sniffle as someone held back tears.

Tomas sat with their youngest son Graham on his lap. He stared in wonder at

the curly brown head. How could they have just celebrated his arrival here

and then today be mourning the loss of his Godmother. As the last of the

guest walked out the front door, He raised his head to look at his wife of 10

years. Eloise was beautiful to him, even in her mourning, she radiated love

and warmth. Tomas knew she was missing her close friend, but she'd opened her

arms and their home to Angeline's family and other friends. She made herself

their center, their port of call during this harsh time, when one should have

been emersed in festivaties. Angeline and Elois had lived life like twins.

Adventures, love all of it had been intertwined. It had been devasting to

both women when Angie had learned too late she'd had breast cancer. Elois had

raged. How could someone so smart, so intellegent not have regular check ups.

But Angie had lived life for the next rush. Moving from one epic adventure to

the other, with out ever having so much as a common cold. When she'd began

to fill sick and not have any strength, she and Eloise argued nightly about

her need to go to the doctor. She'd been over to visit with the kids when she

passed out in the kitchen. Little Graham had run to his brothers, insisting

the twins help he with his angel. THe older boys thought he'd ment the angel

for the christmas tree. At six the twins thought they were grown and had

decided they could replace the ornament theirselves. When they went to the

kitchen to get a chair on which to stand, they found the fallen angel that

had graham in tears. They'd dialed 911 and then called Tomas home explaining

that Auntie Angel was sleeping on the floor in the kitchen and their cookies

were burning in the oven. Here they were on the eve of Christmas eve. Missing

one of the Key elements of the season. Of their lives. The cancer that had

resided in Angeline's breast had been slowly spreading through out her body.

Her sudden decline in health was the result of it taking over the last of

her organs. The doctors had been powerless to save her. Any treatment would

only add to her agonizing pain. The doctors had taken a moment to speak with

each female present at the hospital, ensuring them that if they but only test

regularly most their lives could be saved. Had Angeline gone to any of the

hundreds of appointments she'd scheduled then cancelled her life may have

been spared. But what ifs adn should haves were pointless.

 Rising slowly he walked with Graham toward's Eloise and wrapped her into his

arms with their son. Standing for a moment he inhaled, just relishing this

time, burning it into his memory and willing Elois to do so as well.

"Hey Alice, lets put this little mouse to bed and have a rest, twiddle dee

and dum will be home tomorrow and it will be full steam ahead"

He guided his love down the hall, stopping briefly to put Graham to bed.

Removing his miniture suit he smiled as the child curled into his side.

Graham cuddled the teddy bear that Angeline had just given him for his

birthday and snuffled out a little sigh. Elois pulled the blankets up over

the baby and ran her finger through his curls. Love and sadness poured from

her eyes.

Arm and arm Tomas and Eloise made their way down the hall to their room. Once

inside Tomas sat Elois on the edge of the bed and slowly removed her clothes.

As he removed each shoe he massaged her stocking covered feet, before easing

the dark nylons offer her legs and wadding them up. He had Elois stand before

him and he lifted the simple black sheath dress over head and tossed it too

onto the floor. He made short work of her black bra then wrapped her his

flannel pajama top. Pushing slightly he guided her back on to the bed, then

gathered her discarded clothes and tossed them into the hamper. Tomas changed

into his own pajamas and tee shirt before starting the fire in their hearth

and climbing into bed..

As soon as he settled back against the head board Eloise climbed into his lap

and wiggled her way between his legs with her back to his front. Once she

was settled she leaned her dark head back against his shoulder and nuzzled

her nose into the side of his neck. They sat that way gazing into the flames.

Each reflecting on thier life and their blessings.

 After a time Eloise began to open the button on the pajama top. She kept

her gaze forward so she didnt' see the questioning look one Tomas's face.

When she had every button undone, she placed her hands on Tomas's and slowly

brought them up her torso to rest inside the shirt on her breast. Once his

hands where in place, she raised her arms futher over her head and then

linked her fingers behind Tomas's neck. At this angle her breast were thrust

out futher into Tomas's hands. Understanding came slowly, but it came and

Tomas began to slowly move his fingers over her velvety coal skin. He touched

her with reverance and love, but he touched her slowly and firmly, relearning

the curves of her breast. The breast that had not only nursed and comforted

his sons, but himself. He commited the weight and shape to his mind, to the

very molecular make up of his fingers and palms. He spent what cold have been

hours with his eyes closed and his fingers molding and shaping the heavy

flesh. Finaly when, he felt Eloise release her linked hands and bring her

arms down. He stopped his ministrations and wrapped her in his arms. Turning

slowly, Tomas rolled them to one side and tucked her in close to his body.

FInally they slept

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Its really not that complicated...its just ...complicated

In the interest of holding myself accountable...not hiding from the work that needs to be done...I thought I'd blog my way through this process.

If you follow The Drea and Milana Show on blogtalk, you alread know that periodically we have the Prestess Brandi Auset on.  She always brings us some sort of  knowldege and enlightenment.

I wont get into a heavy details about who she is, what she does and our personal history, you can find all that here WWW.BRANDIAUSET.COM  (well everything except the story of Brandi and I).  But I will say that she is one of the most influential people in my spiritual journey. Not just because of her...skills, but her abilty to relate to me and make me relate to myself. 
I can bull shit a lot of people, but I can't bullshit Brandi. And unlike others who are able to see through whatever guises I might use, Brandi will only let me go so far before she calls me out and challanges me on myself.
She'll probably challenge me on why i felt compelled to blog this way. I wish I could say the answer is I dunno. Which if that was honestly the answer she'd say ok.  But hte truth is...I guess I want to work this thing out. I want to  get passed whatever/whomever is holding me back.  I need to honestly get out of my own way.  Blogging it out is multifaceted... i can work my way through it, be all braggadocio in showing the world ( and in turn myself) that I can do this ( and hide behind that bravodo because I really am scared to admit...the truth.) 

Suddenly I don't want to talk about this... because I think, no I know i've just admitted a part of the truth...not the whole truth and that hurts and I'm scared of it and i don't want to do this right now.  I know i need to, but I...hurt so I'm not. Not right now...maybe tomorrow.  You no what, Brandi said I didn't have to hound myself to have the answer and this is a total cop out, but I'm taking it.  I Don't ....Shit...I haven't even typed out the question she gave me to work on and I'm defensive and angry and ready to i'm not going to answer shit...i'm going to ..just go 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Celebrating Laura and what her cancer has taught me.

A warning: This blog is long and personal. That is why I posted it here instead of over at the other one.  If you want to Learn More about Laura Guevara and her journey  you can reach her on fb and twitter!  She is a wealth of knowledge and courage.! 

It has taken me more than a week to sit down to write this blog.  The words have been swirling in my mind, but I just couldn't do it. Every time I thought about it, I’d make myself sick with tears. It’s as if—If I write the words then it becomes reality. I’m still praying to wake up and find its one of those crazy lucid dreams I tend to have. I've actually stopped and started this blog at least three times in the last hour. * I had to walk away from this blog again. I sent what I had to Laura poured myself two shots of whiskey (which happen to be doubles cuz my shot glasses are tall) and went to bed and cried myself to sleep.  Because I’ve been accused of show boating before, I needed to know that this was ok with Laura. Once I had her approval, I got back up and added to and tried my best to edit this. Purple is me trying to be clearly and complete in my thinking.  I’ve avoided even coming into my office for nearly six days because the sight of my laptop made me break out in a sweat. I know I need to get these words out. To set them down so they aren’t lost, but I feel like …they shouldn’t be set free. If I keep them inside then I can hide from them. I wanted to NOT have to face them staring back at me from the screen.

By now most of you know that my very good friend and sometimes co-author Laura Guevara has cancer.  She was diagnosed two years ago. Not that there is ever a good time to get a diagnosis of triple negative stage four breast cancer, but she learned of her cancer just when everything should have been going great in her life. A new first time mom with a 8 month old bouncing baby girl. She had been making career moves and life changes. She was getting ready to  take the world by storm.

My heart dropped. Laura isn’t the first friend or family member that has received such a horrible blow.  Years ago before CWB and I got married one of our closest friends received a similar diagnosis only days after giving birth to her third child and only son.  Melissa, however, didn’t get a chance to fight like Laura. Her cancer was too advanced and within months she was gone.

I recently spent a week with Laura for her birthday.  The last time we spent significant time together like that was in Vegas. And there was no cloud hanging over us in the oppressive heat. Just smiles and laughter and life waiting to be lived. So we’ve had two years of trying to rebuild our friendship and balancing it between fighting for her life and just living every day.   She has a baby girl and I have been struggling with infertility.   There wasn’t time for long weekends and road trips. Neither of us as written a book in over three years; together or separate.  LIFE even when you’re facing death just keeps going-just keeps getting in the way.

Anyway, I was fearful as I boarded the plane.  Even though I had just seen Laura in June, I was … sick with worry.  My mind has been whirling since she asked me to join her for her birthday. We’ve planned plenty of trips in the past two years, but never been able to manage them.  What if she was calling on me so that she could find away to tell me something horrible?

I thought I knew a lot about cancer. My grandmother passed away in 1992 from cancer. My husband’s grandmother battled cancer for many years before passing away in 2012.  But in every case I’ve learned something new. Sometimes I learn a lot about me as well.   Here is what I learned last week.

I am afraid of cancer.
Not just of cancer but I am afraid of Laura’s Cancer.  Not because I feel like I’m going to get cancer or anything like that. But I am terrified that cancer is going to take my friend from me. I know that Laura is a fighter. And as long as she is fighting so will I.  I also know that LIFE could take Laura away from me. Anything could happen. I’m a klutz, I could trip and break my neck and die. Laura drives like a bat out of hell. She could run someone of the road and they chase her down with road rage. But I’m afraid of this cancer.
If I’m honest right now I’ll admit that part of me dreaded getting on the plan and flying to Houston.  See Laura and I are close, but for a solid year or so leading up to her diagnosis we hadn’t really been. You know life just gets in the way.  We spoke but not as often as we once had. She had a new boyfriend and I had a new career and …issues. It seems as if we were just getting back to US when the news was delivered.
So we’ve had two years of trying to rebuild our friendship and balancing it between fighting for her life and just living every day.   She has a baby girl and I have been struggling with infertility.   There wasn’t time for long weekends and road trips. Neither of us as written a book in over three years; together or separate.  LIFE even when you’re facing death just keeps going.

What if last week was the last time I ever see her face? Hold her hand? Make her laugh? Hear her call me “estupida cochina”?

Which Brings me to the fact that I learned I’m selfish. And CANCER MAKES YOU EVEN MORE SELFISH.
A LOT SELFISH.   Did you see everything I just said up there. ME ME ME ME…I’m afraid that LAURA’S CANCER is going to HURT ME.
A year ago, Laura lost her hair. I’d made a promise to her that I would be bald if she was bald. I would be as much support for her as I could. God, knows that if I could trade her places, I would.  But I can’t.
So I shaved my head. And I posted the pictures on social media. Then Laura posted her pictures. She wasn’t so afraid anymore to show her beautiful round cranium.  I felt like I had been there, was being there for her. Until someone who used to be very close to me began telling people that I was just showing off. That I should be ashamed of myself.  They felt like I was making Laura’s cancer be about me. I was hurt. Crushed.  I can’t decide if it was more because the person who said it used to be someone I was once close to…or if I was afraid that they were telling the truth.

For years Laura and I used to campaign for cancer awareness together. Laura’s father and two of her aunts also died from various forms of cancer and as I said before I’ve been no stranger to it.  Back in the days of the yahoo groups, we used to do a monthly “BOOBIE BLAST” where we’d send a funny email reminder to everyone to check the ta-tas.   Weeks after Laura’s diagnosis she informed me that she was not only going to fight but to make sure that she educated as many people as she could. I co-signed right away. “ANYTHING YOU NEED”

I never stopped to think that, my actions would ever be viewed as me looking for attention.  As if I was somehow using Laura’s platform to make myself relevant.
But I suppose I am. Not that I want to be relevant to anyone other than Laura. But, selfishly, after all the time we lost for stupid things; I’m definitely using this combined effort to make sure I don’t let a day go by without being there.  I should have been there all along. And my pride almost cost me one of the most beautiful friendships I’ve ever known.  I’ll be damned if I’m not there, in whatever capacity she asks of me now.  I want to soak up every minute that I can. Every memory. Until the day she kicks me out. * Cancer also makes you selfless.  At some point you realize how much the people in your life mean to you and just how much you’d be willing to give up to make sure that they know they are loved, cherished and cared for.  I’ve made more of an effort to remind my other friends that even though we have a strange relationship (what with me being a hermit) that they mean so much to me.  If they are reading this right now I want them to know that I love them. I really do. And I appreciate them. Life may keep us apart but that doesn’t change the dynamic of us.

  For a long time I stopped my fertility treatments because there was a situation going on that I knew…I just knew if Laura needed me I’d do it. If it meant my life for hers I’d do it. And I thought I love CWB but we don’t have children so If I can trade my life so that she can have hers and be with her baby…well I’ve had a good ride.  She pretty much called me “estupida cochina, what are you saying. Don’t be a dumb ass. But…thank you.”  I meant it then. I mean it now. Laura just smiles and says “No. Someday you’ll be a mom, Drea, besides who is going to teach Sid all the crazy shit only you can teach her?”  Side note: seriously…She jokes that Sid is me reincarnated and I not so secretly love it. Sid makes sure that her mom has adventures everyday even when I can’t. It’s pure and glorious shenanigans.  And yeah, I’d lay down my life it meant Laura got to be there forever single one of those adventures.  * Did I mention how Laura kept texting me to make sure I wasn’t getting into anything.  “Sit right here, Drea. I’ll be back. You can go to the café. You don’t have to wait, but don’t get into anything without me.”  See that…WITHOUT HER…not  don’t get into anything. Just don’t do it with out her. Ha… that’s my road dog. Always up for shenanigans. As much as she is accustomed to being alone in this ( and I don’t mean to insult her family because they are with her every step of the way. Her mom and sister are often with her on these trips and have been by her side 100% the whole time. I am the interloper here) she was worried about my comfort. How I was handling it, was I nervous, “You should go eat, Drea.”  As if I could have swallowed my spit at that point. “It takes a while; you have to eat while you can.” (I looked around and noticed people eating various yumminess while there family/friends/loved ones struggled to down giant gulps of flavored barium) “seriously, no one will be offended, we all run out of here to go eat as soon as the scan is done.” Laura has always been a caregiver, whether she wanted to be or not. Cancer has made her even more so.

I also learned that Cancer is lonely.
As many people as you may have to support you. As many people as cancer affects. It’s not a team sport.  Just like you have world class athletes who have a crew of people around them, supporting them, cancer patients have doctors and family. But at the end of the day they are on their own.
And so too is each person who is on the pit crew.
I sat in the hospital while Laura flitted from one appointment to the next. All I was really good for was conversation and purse holding.  I was there as entertainment.  But when it came down to it, she has to do it alone. She is alone when they check her ports or run labs. I can’t drink the barium for her or sit with her in the back while she waits to be moved from room to room to room before finally being stuffed in the machine that scans her body from head to toe.
The least I could do was try not to get kicked out of the hospital and eaves drop on all the other patients’ conversations so that I could relay the stories to her when she came out.   I was lonely (there I go again being selfish) sitting in the lobby. So I talked with other people. People like me, who were lonely, waiting on loved ones to be poked and prodded. People like Laura, who didn’t want to go be poked or prodded…alone, without their friends to yell at.

I wanted to explore and check out the hot guy that was calling people’s names and to text her and tell her about the cop that scared me and deterred me from going down to the lobby of the huge hospital on my own.

I wanted to sneak in and take a picture of her in that hospital gown and make her yell at me to go sit still and behave. But I couldn’t. So I took selfies of myself on all her devices and posted them to fb so that she could see them on her phone and know that I was just outside…waiting for her and she wasn’t alone.  And I held my breath waiting for each like or reply, because then I knew that I wasn’t alone either. Knowing that our friends and family were all at work or at home waiting to find out if Laura had kicked me out of the car on the 610 or if I could tell them any news, made me able to breathe just a little bit.  I won’t say breathe easier. I fought for every breath afraid that if I relaxed someone would come and make me leave or worse tell me something I didn’t want to hear.

I also learned that unless you personally go to as many appointments as you can with someone, ALMOST EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT CANCER IS A LIE!  The Images we are feed of cancer patients…they are unfair and one dimensional.  I mean sure we sometimes see the images of “survivors” doing walks and celebrating NED ( no evidence of disease) or Remission or even cures. But what about the folks like Laura, who can’t (as of yet) be cured, but can be managed.
You know what I didn’t see at M.D. ANDERSON?
Not as single solitary skeleton person.  I didn’t see anyone who LOOKED like they had cancer.
I’m sure several ladies had on wigs. I over heard lots of them talking about their latest pieces. Like seriously, they talked about them like they were shoes.  But over all I think I saw six bald heads, four of them were men WHO WERE NOT BEING TREATED FOR CANCER.
Where, I thought, were all the sick people?
The person who could barely walk or had iv’s attached to them.
Laura was looking fabulous. If my boobs were smaller I’d have stolen her peacock shirt.  There was a hunky guy who told me he plays intramural basketball and has been coming to M.D. ANDERSON for FIVE YEARS.
There was a young girl. I’d say she was a teenager really, who frankly might have been being treated for severe obesity.
There was a robust cowboy who couldn’t stand his “damn ex wife, the conniving bitch” and an older man who told the cleanest dirty jokes I’ve ever heard in my life.
There were some snooty people who wore their money as if they thought they were too good to be there. There was a girl in “thot” shorts that I SWEAR was bending over in front of me on purpose.  There was a couple that got into an argument so heated not only did the call security, Houston P.D. arrived.  That cop was the biggest man I have ever seen in my life…and thus my “lil side trip” ended with me finding a vending machine and sitting down to take selfies and look out the window, when my intent was to go down to the gift shop and buy a purse.

Looking at Laura, I wouldn’t know she had cancer.  I mean ok she is lopsided and we laugh about how she can hug me on one side and I don’t have to freak out about her boobs touching me anymore. But honestly, looking at her…I have a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that she is sick.  Her curly hair is so luxurious and full, and I shed more in the shower than she does, despite the fact that the chemo is slowly pulling at her hair again.
She got a lecture about her exercising…which made me feel bad about contributing to her “bad eating habits”, and not insisting that she keep the appointment with the dietician.
Whatever I had been expecting, no one there looked anything like it. Everyone was ALIVE. And that gave me hope.
And it made me angry. I’ve known for a while that a lot of charities that support cancer research aren’t really SUPPORTING CANCER PATIENTS.  It’s big business. And I was hurt, that there aren’t images of people like Laura or the hot basketball guy or the snarky old man being shown.  That the money being raised isn’t being funneled into programs to support the folks LIVING with cancer.  NOT dying. NOT dead. ALIVE! MANAGING! FIGHTING!   Don’t get me wrong we need a lot of research for a lot of different cures for a LOT of different types of cancer. BUT what about the folks that need help with shoes cuz their feet hurt from the chemo or or… ok I can’t think of all the things I wanted to be indignant about right now. And don’t get me started on what I think about insurance and pharmacies right now.

Cancer can steal your memories… I don’t think I can talk about this part right now. But let me tell you that chemo brain…is probably the thing that is breaking my heart the most.  Cancer patients find was to joke about it. But I will never hear that again without my heart trembling and a bitter sadness coloring my vision. I made a vow that I will remember every moment that I can. Because it’s not just the small “oh man I think I’m getting old” memories…but life times and adventures that go missing.  I will do my best to stand sentinel and guard those memories with pictures and blogs and long conversations. I WILL NEVER FORGET* Laura doesn’t remember.  Ok, that needs an explanation: Laura has always been a little foggy in the memory department. So have I. It was a running joke between us. CWB would say “ I’m leaving you a note so one of you can remember to remind the other.”   Or if one us needed to remember something the conversation would sound like…

“hey remind me to…” and the reply would come seconds later.
“hey don’t forget to …”  
“why are you telling me right now when you know I’m going to forget.”  “I told you now because I’m not going to remember to remind you later.”  

We’ve  had that conversation several times, but now its not just goldfish/squirrel moments.  There are somethings Laura just can’t remember.  Whole periods of times and reasons. “It’s the chemobrain” she told me as we sat together the first night in Houston. She plied me with a strong margarita so that I’d be in a mellow place before she told me. Food and Drink, that’s always been our thing.   I sat and listened to her explain in not so many words that this trip was important because she couldn’t remember some other times we’d had together.  Oh, she has pictures and she remembers or rather recognizes US, but she can’t for the life of her remember when where why.  “That’s me…in the pictures. I see me, but I don’t know why I was there.” She says calmly while pushing my drink towards me. I cried…I’m crying now.
I asked about several adventures and moments. Tears shimmered in her eyes as she shrugged. She was so calm as she admonished me not to cry.  “I’m not going to forget you…us Laura. I’m never going to forget and I will remember and remind you of everything.”  I said. 
“Good, now stop crying before you make me start.” She dug into her nachos and smacked my hand as I tried to steal some from her plate.  “You have your own.” She munched away, kicking her feet because she is short and they don’t reach the floor. 

See Laura, I’m not going to forget. I’m going to remember everything and If I have to write it down, so will the world.   I’m not going to forget the way you looked putting on your make up, or talking back to the sports show on tv, or sneaking pieces of cake when you thought I was sleeping. I definitely won’t forget the way you looked making out with that headboard in your sleep.  I took pictures even though you told me not to… because I WILL NEVER NOT REMEMBER YOU.

And mostly, I learned that cancer doesn’t mean death. At least, not always.  I’ve always been the person who looked at life as dying. I mean think about it. What is life, at its most basic but the culmination of death. From the very moment we are conceived we begin the process of aging and… dying.  The good stuff, the great stuff is all the adventures and shenanigans you get to do on the way. There is a saying that “you only live once”. I say that’s bullshit. You live every damn day. Sometimes you just survive, but if you’re really into LIFE. You get a new one every day. You only DIE once (unless you’re one of those folks that has died then been brought back then you know…you get a couple of turns).  You’re only good and dead when the toss you in the big oven or cover you with a ton of dirt. 
So being told you have cancer doesn’t mean you’re dead.  It just means you have an approximation OF HOW you’re going to die.  You could still trip and break your neck, or have Laura run you off the road.  So you can’t stop living.  The world isn’t going to stop turning.  Laura says “Hey, I’m taking advantage of all the perks I can. When I get rid of my other boob I won’t have to buy bras, and my handicap sticker…I love parking up close.”  Seriously, she said that. And part of me wanted to be affronted. Like really, who the hell thinks cancer perks are awesome?  And then a smile came to my face as Laura whipped into the parking space closest to the door of the bbq shack.  Laura does…and I do. I mean. I’d don’t want cancer but not having to buy bras is pretty awesome and who doesn’t like parking in front of the door?  That might seem kinda crass, but I realized that my friend is alive. And she is Living. Every. SINGLE. DAY.  She lives and breathes and fights.  And in this fight I’ve learned who Laura is. This isn’t defining her but damn if she isn’t going to end up in the dictionary as the definition of courage and strength.  Cancer is teaching me who the woman behind the name is. I am honored to study. * So this is what I’ve been writing. I know some of you are waiting on me to write something different. I just knew I couldn’t really move forward on anything until I did this. Trust me, Laura is just as anxious as you guys that I WRITE. And I will.  We had lots of inspiration while we were in Houston. I needed to do this though. For Laura and for myself. And for anyone out there who knows just what this feels like. I said to Laura, “I feel like I’m mourning you already and that makes me mad. You’re NOT GONE. You’re here.”
Her answer was priceless, “ If you don’t stop that shit I’m going to haunt you when I die.”

 I guess that’s what this was. Me mourning. I don’t know if I’m done. I kind of like the idea of her haunting me. That way I don’t have to ever let go.  Maybe this is me celebrating her. I like the sound of that better. Celebrating Laura.  Yup, and eagerly anticipating my birthday.  You see Laura is predicting that her hair is going to fall out by then and selfishly, I get to be bald too.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Reunited and It Feels so Good

This weekend my good friend/ Sister Aniece and her Fiancé Carla came to visit with their dog tyler.

I know what you’re thinking, “Dréa speant A whole weekend with people.
I did. And I was Happy to do so. In fact I’m planning to have a girl’s weekend with my best friend Jennifer Really soon.

Here is the thing; as much as I Revel in my hermit-dom, I actually do like “some” people.
And I enjoy spending time with them.  Not all the time!  But sometimes… like once or twice every year or maybe like every three months.

I love to get together with them and share good food and conversation. Catch up on what’s been going on in their lives. Gossip as we are apt to do. Maybe do a little shopping and site seeing, or just split a bottle of wine or a bucket of margaritas.
Yeah, I said a bucket… a really, really Big bucket.

WE laugh and sometimes shed a tear or two. We connect to each other spiritual and reaffirm what words can’t really say.
“I love you.”
“I honor you”
“I trust you”
“I appreciate you”

There is a balm, much like the one in Gilead, in being with my soul sisters.
Jennifer, Tawania, aniece.
There  is a safty in being in the protective
Circle of my brothers
Corey, Jhonathan, Gary, chris.

I am very rarely that close people (particularly females.)

That is a uniqueness to that bond.
Being with the people who know me best and understand… truly understand my need to be separate but together.
To be exactly who I am at all times.
To be silent and moody, loud and juvenile.
Judgemental and unconditional..
A hard ass and a push over.

To have the love and support of people who knew me before I became “ME”.
Who understand the woman beneath the showmanship.

It is so good to be able to touch that point of pure energy and love.
To be grounded to the circle of life and covered in the peace of just being.
To sit in the darkness under the watchful  eye of the late spring moon and count fireflies and shooting stars.

To reconnect, to recharge. To reunite.
To strengthen a bond forged in love and time.

And now I’m done and I can spend some time absorbing it all.
Being all by myself with the sweet smell of rain washed earth.

I spent the weekend Loving and being loved.
Being reminded that I am not alone.
And being happy not only for myself, but for aniece and Carla and their life and family.
 And that has been the best thing.

Being able to see the tangible good in this world.