Music Mondays: AMV Bleak Friday [Serial Experiments Lain]

Do you remember that awful, awful song by Rebecca Black? The one that kept extolling the glory of Friday? This amv by editor Ileia features a morose, contemplative cover of the same song and sets it against the gritty, bleak background imagery of Serial Experiments: Lain.

The result is both hilarious and unexpectedly emotive. Not a bad way to start off a Monday by far.

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Music Mondays: [ENP] Reflections AMV

AM2“Is it only when you’re in love with another person, that you see them as they really are? And in the ordinary way, when you’re not in love with people, you see only a fragmented version of that being? Because when you’re in love with someone, you do indeed see them as a divine being…and suppose that’s what they are truly? Your eyes have, by your beloved, been opened.”

These are just some of the words that echo across a landscape of imagery and music after the 1 minute point of this touching AMV. Winner at MTAC’s 2014 AMV Contest for Judges Best Artistic, this is one of only a handful of AMVs I’ve watched without connection to the series used, but have enjoyed immensely and repetitiously (ad infinitum up to this point).

There’s something in the distantly retro broadcast voice. Something in every word spoken and in every highlighted, fevered motion framed in vivid color. Something cushioned perfectly between saccharine sweet piano keys and the heartbeat-like, tiptoes-at-the-edge-before-jumping rhythm…that really captures the essence and anxiety and excitement of new love.

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If it’s only when we’re in love with another person that we see people as they truly are…I want to be in love with everyone all the time. Especially if the new vision granted by emotion is as gorgeous and full of feels as this video.

“We don’t say ‘rising in love’. There is in it the idea of the fall.”

Wow. Just wow. And much applause.

Grateful 365 #37 – Small Hipster Moments

glassesI’m not sure if I’ve ever met a hipster. They seem to be one of those elusive subcultures where everyone knows what it takes to be one (glasses, pbr, plaid and pretention, right?), but no one identifies as one. Perhaps that’s why I’ve taken to using “Oh you hipster,” so flippantly among friends. I’ve become convinced that I’m not dragging anyone’s name through the mud, because hipsters as individuals just don’t exist. The term is just a strawman for our collective disdain of a habit we all do. I mean, we’re all a little hipster, but not all the time, righthipfoot

Okay, so I’m sure someone on Discovery will mount an “In Search of Hipsters” investigation with fancy meters and equipment and prove me wrong, but for now let’s go with my premise. No one is full hipster, but the hipster attributes live in us all like subliminal messaging in Disney films. Pervasive and impossible to ignore once you know they’re there.

See, we all have those moments where we fall into the “I don’t like it as much if too many other people share the same opinion” trap. I’ll call myself anti-bandwagoning for instance, or avoid things with too large a preexisting fabase… I can also find a billion different ways to say I liked something before it was cool.

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Yeah, you can say it- “Oh you hipster, Remy.”

And that’s okay. I embrace these moments. In fact, just today I reveled in the fact that I liked facebook before facebook was “mainstream”.

I am 2004 join date cool. Bam. I said it. I don’t know why I’m proud of it and I don’t feel the need to justify it. I’ve loved facebook and hated it, but I’m glad I’m on it.

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It was a neat moment, really. That whole #facebookis10 video wave hit me and I just rode the crest of it’s popularity with glee.
So thanks for my hipster moment, facebook. I’m grateful.
~all the love~

Before Youtube- Installment 1: The Hampster Dance

Dearest internet-denizens. Today, allow me to take you on a trip. A trip to a simpler, but not easier time. An era filled with gifs, flash and quicktime. A period of  history when just about everyone on the block had the web, but you all commiserated en masse about just how long things took to load. A time before 2005, when former Paypal employees would finally create that media sharing device we all cried out for. Before there was one spot- and only one spot- where we could all go for amusing, inane videos and meme fodder.

A time before Youtube.

No. no. Not before Youtube became a subsidiary of Google in 2006. Not before people started blogging about how it changed the world and shrank our social circles. Not before the absurdists and unmedicated ADDers came up with “Youtube Poop”.

Before it existed.

Do you remember that time, dear interwebz?

Back in the early days, you had to know what page you wanted. You had to know where the funny or the entertaining or the weird was. You had to type web-addresses.

And once you did know, you desperately wanted to share.

In future Before Youtube posts,  I’m going to take us all down a little side road I like to call nostalgia and bring up a few videos you may or may not have seen along with some history on when and where they spawned.

To kickstart our little journey, let’s talk dancing hampsters. You remember that, right? You typed in ‘www.hampsterdance.com’ and you got a simple page filled with spinning, bouncing gifs set to the tune of ‘The Whistle Stop’? That damnable, un-unhearable, catchy as hell tune from Disney’s “Robin Hood”, but all sped up just to make it even more of an ear-worm? That melody that you catch yourself whistling despite yourself even now?

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Even if there wasn’t a photo above, you could still see the hampsters…couldn’t you?

It was 1998, and a Canadian art student named Deidre LaCarte engaged in a friendly competition with two other young women to see who among them could generate the most traffic. (I’d assume it fair to say that LaCarte won. Hopefully she enjoyed her hockey tickets and bottles of maple syrup. (That’s currency up there, right?)) Her inspiration came from her hampster and the end result was a page filled with his likeness along with several other bobbing, animated gifs of creatures she would later dub Dixie, Hado, and Fuzzy. One might argue that it wasn’t exactly an artistic concept, but here’s the interesting part—

1998 to 1999? 800 visits. Maybe four a day if that.

Suddenly in 1999, the number of visits per day skyrocketed to an astonishing 15,000…per day! 15,000 views per day was not something a random Geocities page did! (Sleep well sweet pagehoster, btw…)

Maybe it was the catchy music. Maybe it was the origin of the internet and adorable furry animals playing well together. Maybe it was the fact that if you set a co-worker or a friend or a parent’s homepage to this looping 9-second loop of sped-up, high pitched music hilarity ensued. Maybe it was the fact that this particular facet of HampsterDance brought some mainstream televised attention to the site.

….Either way you cut it though, it was clearly magic.

I remember at least one entrancing afternoon spent watching the hammies boogie until they went out of sync. If you’d like to relive that magic, just click below:

An e-mail from a friend worth spreading around.

The Awakening

(Author unknown)

 

A time comes in your life when you finally get…when, in the midst of all your fears and insanity, you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out…ENOUGH.  Enough fighting and crying and blaming and struggling to hold on. Then, like a child quieting down after a tantrum, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new eyes.

 

This is your awakening.

 

You realize it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to magically appear over the next horizon.

 

You realize that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings, and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you…and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

 

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are…and that’s OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions.

 

You learn the importance of loving and championing yourself…and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.

 

Your stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you – or didn’t do for you – and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.

 

You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and everything isn’t always about you.

 

So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself…and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.

 

You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties…and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.

 

You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.

 

You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you’ve outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with.

 

You learn that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for you next fix.

 

You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.

 

You learn that you don’t know everything, it’s not your job to save the world and that you can’t teach a pig to sing. You learn the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

 

Then you learn about love. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You learn that alone does not mean lonely.

 

You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.

 

You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs.

 

You learn that your body really is your temple. You begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin to eat a balanced diet, drinking more water, and take more time to exercise.

 

You learn that being tired fuels doubt, fear, and uncertainty and so you take more time to rest. And, just food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play.

 

You learn that, for the most part, you get in life what you deserve, and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different than working toward making it happen.

 

More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You learn that no one can do it all alone, and that it’s OK to risk asking for help.

 

You learn the only thing you must truly fear is fear itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your own terms.

 

You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom.

 

You learn that life isn’t always fair, you don’t always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people…and you lean not to always take it personally.

 

You learn that nobody’s punishing you and everything isn’t always somebody’s fault. It’s just life happening. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.

 

You lean that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you.

 

You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.

 

Then, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever settle for less than you heart’s desire.

 

You make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

 

You hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind.

 

Finally, with courage in your heart, you take a stand, you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.Image

No Time for Paranoia. AKA! One Less Thing to Worry About.

It’s funny how quickly things move sometimes. I fell asleep the other night, too exhausted to finish the small article I was writing on superstition and paranoia.

You see, I’d been having nightmares. Nightmares about my hair falling out. My teeth falling out. That kind of thing.

I’d started finding hair on my pillow in the morning. My head felt like it was itchying. I was getting paranoid.

I developed some rituals. 5 strokes of the hairbrush and straight into a pony tail for the rest of the day,. No touching the hair before I went to bed. No showers after the second chemo.

Basically, don’t look at the hair. Don’t think about the hair. Don’t touch the hair.

ESPECIALLY don’t touch the hair.

That’s what I was writring about. Maybe in more detail.

The night after neulasta was AWFUL. I had some oxy/acetominaphin to help get me through it though, so after an hour or so, it became tolerable and I was able to get some on/off sleep in so long as my head wasn’t involved. (And yes, that is another article because I feel it’s important. Neulasta is NO JOKE.)

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love dressing up. I love spooky stuff. I wanted to participate. I planned on taking the max dose of oxy for the celebration. Dress up. Have fun. …A shower was needed.

I will summerize the shower: traumatic shower is traumatic.Image

That dream where you run your fingers through your hair and it comes out in clumps? And doesn’t stop? THAT.

I got so overwhelmed that through the tears, I started hanging it up on the towel rack. What else could I do? It wouldn’t stop!!

It was so much like my nightmares that I have expected my grit teeth to fall out of my head too! Maybe my arms would melt away and fall off next!!

Before I continue, I’ll tangent with a short story. I gave my hair an ultimatum. We could live together if it thinned. We could live together for a long time. I might get it cut a bit shorter, I might wear it up a lot more, but we’d deal. HOWEVER. If it clumped and came out? Done deal. It was getting shaved. I knew I couldn’t deal with it. Too much. Much too much.

So yeah, I got over the shock. I got over the horror. I got annoyed. Stupid fucking hair!!! It had ONE JOB, dammit!!! ONE!!

Cool thing though, the chemo left patterns. I saw two tulips and later on a heart. Maybe even the word “hi” if I looked hard enough. It was going to be okay. The hair stuff? If anything, it just showed that the chemo was doing it’s thing. Hunting shit down. Getting cancer dead.ImageImage

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I could dig it. I could deal with it. I don’t make idle threats, so at least I knew that I wouldn’t have to deal with the awful hair on my pillow much longer.

I’m blessed with wonderful friends. My housemate has worries of her own in the cancer department that make this lymphoma of mine look like a cupcake stand. She’s also lost her mother to cancer. There are all sorts of reasons that helping me with my hair issues probably made her uncomfortable or potentially brought back memories. Still, she’s the best make-you-bald barber I’ll ever had. Through the process we smiled and laughed…she made me forget everything I was worried about or afraid of.

I can’t even express my gratitude for her in general, let alone for her help with a difficult task. I really am SO blessed.

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So now I have a new haircut…and one less trouble. :)

Nights like these… (What is Neulasta Pain Like?)

Ow. God, please make it stop. Ow…Fuck.

That’s my existence right now. No. Wait it’s not. Dullness has come and the agony throbs rather than stabs. I’m squinting at the screen.

What is “mild to moderate bone pain?” I want to tell you, because the drug company doesn’t…and nothing you will read will tell you like someone in it’s throes can tell you.

Neulasta…the night after.

Swells of pain that wash over me, climax like an ice pick through my flesh and to my bone…only to fade into dull, hot, sweaty agony. It buzzes under my skin. Everything is under pressure. Everything stings and burns and hums and refuses to let me sleep. I clench my fists and my fingers tingle uncomfortably. I curl my legs and my stomach heaves and rises and churns as though hoping against hope I might be able to just expel these sensations through my lips and be done.

I lose time. I lose thought. Words pass in and out. In and out. In…

I don’t know if I sleep. I don’t know the day or time. Sometimes I barely know my name, but am left only with feverish whispers praying and pleading for mercy. For sleep. For anything other than what is.

Videos play in the background. I catch fragments. I feel like I’m coming in later and later. Maybe I am sleeping, but rested is the last thing I feel.

There is no comfortable position. There is no relief. Movement burns like alcohol in an open wound then tingles and then aches. Stillness throbs with every heartbeat and burns beneath the nerves. Life is beyond uncomfortable. Existence is agony. Breathing is something I wish I could stop doing…it makes me aware of my ribs and back and hips and hands and legs and feet and oh dear God, dear God!!

My head spins. The bed is moving. I’m moving. My head is swimming.

I’m nauseated, but am terrified of all the movement retching brings.

I clench my eyes shut and urge time to pass. Will it with every fiber of my being. Sleep. SLEEP. Let this pass. Please God.  I pray. I pray so hard I almost believe my pain an offering.

I wait for the medication. I wait for the dulling. It’s too late for numbness, I know that much. But dulling. Just a little. Just that sharp, bleeding edge in my legs and hip.  Just the glass shards between my joints and around my bones.  Dull it, take it so I can have words or thought again. Please God. Please Jesus. Please…

Please. Please.

I see shapes when my eyes are closed…the outlines of my heartbeat and the silhouettes of jagged, subterranean nerves on fire. Every now and again, I feel like there’s no way my nerves can take any more…surely they’ll die out and fall silent. Surely they’ll kill themselves. Surely this is the limit of what a human can endure….

The dullness comes. Movements happen in slow motion but everything rings with a memory of pain. I regard it warily but refuse to look at it directly. I close my mind to it. I hide behind the pill in my bloodstream and say my thank yous for this reprieve. The pain is still there, under the surface…but I can contain it. I can hold it. I can move and think and work around it.

Everything seems distant and far away. The keyboard seems unreal. I type these words with caution, afraid that the monster beneath my skin might sense my thoughts and reappear to ravage my poor body again. I shroud myself in prayer. I turn the worship music high and hang my head and grip my crucifix as though fighting vampires.

Please…keep it at bay long enough for me to sleep. Keep it away….

Overthinking Nonsense (Post Chemo 2)

I’m progressively ambivalent toward my own attitude… Am I still in denial? Stubborn? I don’t know…

Some nights, like tonight, I feel this desperate urge to call someone over and just hug onto them and cry. Vent about how much chemo sucks and how much I hate feeling like shit and how much more I hate knowing that I’m going to feel like shit and how much it hurts to just exist some nights… Sob and cry and make a scene and have them say all those sweet placating words I already know myself…

And I think that last bit is exactly why I don’t… In the end, what is that other than selfish? “Hey! I feel awful! Join me! Oh, what’s that? You want to help me and seeing me like this makes you feel badly too? Too bad! There’s nothing you can do but sit here and be miserable with me and say words that both of us know really don’t change or fix anything…”

Yeah, that’s an awful thing to do to a person… and for what purpose? Making certain sure they know that chemo isn’t actually a cavalcade of fun and excitement? (I think that secret’s out.) Drag the mood down in order to reach conclusions I already know? (Oh. I need treatment to get better? I couldn’t possibly have thought of that myself! Thanks for spending a miserable few hours with me!)

At this point, most of my friends would likely remind me that I would absolutely hate it if I knew they were feeling badly and they kept it to themselves for similar reasons…and it’s true. I’d be absolutely livid…

I’d tell them that that’s part of being a good friend and that helping to shoulder the misery is the only thing I’d be able to do for them…I might even say that it was selfish to block everyone out because we want to help and giving us nothing is only making us feel worse and more helpless.

I really hate feeling helpless…I really would hate it if roles were reversed and my friends didn’t tell me.

I’ve always been good at double standards though, and writing is the one thing that’s always helped me sort my shit out.
…and the more I dwell on or give into this ‘poor me’ bullshit, the more I’ll feel entitled to it.

I’m not. I’m not because I have too much to be grateful for. I have a curable disease. I live in a place where I can get treatment. I can work. I can get financial assistance from a number of groups and have people to help me navigate all of that. I’m young. I’ve got a body that can handle treatment. I’ve got a mind and faith and friends and so much support that it often leaves me breathless…

All that is without venturing down the thought process of all those people who have it worse. IIA is nothing. Hodgkin’s is nothing. Worse case scenario, I have to endure this for a while longer…and then I’ll be cured. Done. It’s over. I’ve won.

Not everyone is so lucky. Not everyone is certain they’ll win.

I always tell my students that it’s alright to be afraid and I’ll admit now that I am. I am afraid. I’m starting to hate the anticipation of chemo and (more so) neulasta more than the actual feeling shitty part.

However, the full speech I give is, “It’s okay to be afraid, but we can’t let our fear be bigger or stronger than we are. We can’t let our fear stop us from doing what we need to do.”

I may not take all of my own advice, but I’ll listen to me this once. Just like my children who stand with their toes at the edge of the pool, lip trembling and knuckles white, what I fear can’t hurt me. Maybe the sensations that follow will be new, maybe even uncomfortable, but in the end we’ll be okay. Just like those children, too much time spent crying and moaning and being told that my reactions are warranted and acceptable will only keep me from dealing with it and doing what I need to do.

So internet, I’m glad we had this talk. :) I’ll be back later with updates on all the stuff I’m grateful for rather than moaning.

How is lymphoma like a latte?

As stated last post: to say I have “lymphoma” is not exact by any means.

coffeeI’ve come to discover that describing one’s “brand” of cancer shares a lot in common with ordering a drink at Starbucks– the titles are long, nearly guaranteed to be spoken in the wrong order, and mean very little to anyone other than you and your barista (oncologist).

Personally, I prefer a Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Nodular Sclerosing, Stage IIA… (Oh, and I’ll take it infradiaophragmatic with lymphadenopathy presenting in the illiac, inguinal, and inguinal-femoral regions, please. …also two packs of sugar and one cream.)

If that doesn’t make any sense to you, don’t worry: I’m still probably getting half the terminology wrong. Not because I’ve decided that Hodgkin’s the Raven Bearded has placed a high level curse on my loins and called it a day, but because I really HAVE tried to figure out this doctor speak and am currently struggling with forming complete sentences.

Take heart though! As it is with coffee, it is also with cancer– the jargon can be translated to common tongue with a little effort.

Let’s start from general and get specific:

Cancer*. When cells divide and multiply out of control, often growing and spreading within the body. Cancer forms tumors, but not all tumors are cancer.

LymphNode_HodgkinsLymphoma_NS_SyncytialVariant2Lymphoma. A blood cancer wherein white blood cells called lymphocytes divide faster than normal or live longer than normal eventually causing a tumor. A cancer affecting the lymphatic system.

Lymphatic System. A system of vessels and organs that deliver lymph, a colorless fluid containing white blood cells, throughout the body. Lymph must pass through glands called lymph nodes on the way back to the circulatory system to prevent the spread of infection and disease.

Lymph Nodes. Bean-looking glands found all over the body that are responsible for removing foreign substances from the blood. They are packed full of lymphocytes (B and T types) and swell when fighting infection or disease as additional immune system cells fill them.

Reed-Sternberg Cells. Only makes up 1-2 percent of a Hodgkin’s Disease tumor. They are mutated B lymphocytes which are much larger than normal B lymphocytes. Although they can be multinucleated, they often have a single nucleus surrounded by cytoplasm and then enclosed by a defined cell membrane. This subtype is known as a lacunar cell.

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. type of lymphoma characterized by an orderly spread of disease from one lymph node group to another, the development of systemic symptoms with advanced disease, and the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells inside the lymphadenopathy.

Nodular Sclerosing. One of four main subtypes of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and the most common in developed countries. The lymphoma takes the form of large tumor nodules with lacunar Reed-Sternberg cells present.

(*This is super generalized and could be more accurate. If you want to read about neoplasms, malignancies, and the like, please consult your doctor. I am NOT an expert and am learning as I go.)

There’s more, of course, to the equation. Stuff like positioning and staging and the like…but there are plenty of websites that explain it better than I can at the moment and while this list of definitions seemed like a brilliant idea the night I came up with it, I’m finding my own ignorance tedious now.

…so I think I’ll move on and return to it later.