Chemo Brain: turning into its skid
Okay, this morning I'm feeling like my skull is made of Styrofoam, but everything inside it--well, thick, gray and heavy. I'm stirring the dry ground beans as the boiling drips creamily soak the coffee. Then I flashed on how I got someone to laugh by saying," Your real friends tell you the truth, show a dark side. It's the guy who agrees and laughing and rolls with your every mood--that's the one who is going to bring you down! Hey, I'm certain Brutus was the one guy who laughed at all of Caesar's jokes and agreed with his every word, and accompanies his every mood.. You know, slapping in on the back, patting him on the back then zingo! A knife dead center! Then Brutus going, “Shoulda never given Cassius my corner orifice--office," If they can 't stab you in the back unless they can hug you first.” Then the phrase floats into my head, about moving an object, and I say out loud, “He’ll see it if it’s not there.” And then flashing on the line about “there’s no there there.” And wondering if it’s another way of saying that phrase is the same as I stare down at the soaked grounds and had been staring at this creamy coffee foam how long? Thing about what?
Ah, chemo brain, we meet again, My ADD friend. And maybe a little medicinal herbal purse-strings lobes sewn deeply in those grey fibers. Thoughts are the brains chew toy, anxiety its cerebral heartburn
Chemo brain, a whirlpool of commuter trains spiraling you down into its semi-David Lynch director’s chair, it’s so distorting I can actually see my sister’s side in her last argument about how everybody loves them wherever she goes and I’m hoping she goes there because she babbles on about nothing then quizzes you
And with chemo brain I’ll see it--if it's not there. Ka-yikes! All of this is how I start the first five minutes of the day! With the thoughts like “I’ll see me if I’m not there.”
Yikes! Whoa!Getting flashes existential observations I’d hear from the stoner room at Antioch College, or actually any place where someone is smoking dope because the keg kicked.
The winding sifting whir of the chemo-fun-man-sack-fun-pack attached to me through as medical port reminds me of the squawking gulls of the beginning chorus of the Christmas tune from The Who’s Tommy then thinking “if I’m not there I can I’ll still see me. Duh! What am I trying to do, write Tommy Two? as my thoughts launch into Tommy see-me-feel-me-touch-me-heal-me. I’m already thinking about how this day will end as I smirk and shake the chemo juice lapping and sloshing around in my Styrofoam skull like the sound ice makes in a cooler as you search through it for a cold beer---oh, where is this going?
And wonder where the hell am I this morning, just getting rag-dolled in the brain waves. Never fight a chemo-cancer riptide—that shows fear. Chemo brain can lull you into finger-nail trimming. I smile at a piece of graffiti a woman told me was written about me in the women’s room bathroom wall: “I’d like to sit inside Fred Reiss’s mind just to see what happens.” (So have I come close?)_That was a nice one, I thought, (“Who do you think you are to interrupt my thoughts with a parenthetical observation.”) but the identity of the next (“So, who are you telling me what I can and can’t do?”) Authoress de Graffiticus added, “Reiss is a piece.” (“See you ruined the set-up.”) So my Tower had that ground covered. (“Yeah, like I ruined your precious steam-of-Marcel-Proust commingling the present with the past—big deal, past present, future. Same old, same old, same old. You get in my grill, I’m bouncing”)
Well, at least he’s gone but if he’s not there I see him. Enough. Back to me, please, back to me. Hey, yes, really stuff was written about me in the women’s library bathroom—a woman wrote it down and gave it to me, I thought, at least none of my body parts were in a crack of a hairy hole in the wall. Whatever I had in college, I had something, but will I see it if that’s not there.
In the chemo universe, and image
I’m standing in a field of weeds in a sepia-tone haze, where I’m nine-and wearing Farmer jeans. I’m a tow-headed nine-year old.
My back is to you.
The turbulent gun-barrel-like bluish-gray glinting sutured cloud formations are roiling with a mixture of menace, malice and emptiness. I’m staring up at this speck of thee kite, still aligned perfectly and riding the vacuuming wind. And that kite is me soul. Where is all this going? I want the string to be on that kite. I wanted to be where the is now, higher than even my string could release it. I wanted to be connected!
So I watch the kite perfectly go deeper in the highs and lows of the threatening chemo weather brain pattern.
In the sepia image, the Fred-9 is staring, back to you, arms at his sides, neutrally staring into the upwelling gusts lifting the minuscule image of the quadrilateral kite, longing and hopefully staring at the kite, like it was a piece of my soul the chemo has separated from me. I nodded is the kite lost, out of control, being taken over and It’ll reinsert itself into me and I’ll be a pod person talking about weather and traffic….aaaah.
Cancer’s clouds are churning, trying to overwhelm my kite, but there white kite catching these bursts of lightning and flashes. Amid all the gray and blue, a my kite is free and advancing still lives because it catches the light!
I can see it, it’s not there, but I can see it, because I no longer have to hold a string to a journey. It's a journey I've taken before. You never come back the same.
I admire the perfectly ascending quadrilateral white speck out thwarting the chemo-and-cancer’s roiling clouds to the sun.
I turn sideways and point proudly to my kite and say to the Great Unknown, say, “That’s a good thing, right?”
I don’t wait for a response, I start laughing.
We both laugh, as if we avoided an avalanche by having it mysteriously go under us.
Whoever most gravitas defies gravity! What can I tell you, you can't make this stuff up.
And cancer’s a bottom feeder.
You can’t catch me--er, us.