community · debt · healing · vulnerability

A Kick Start.

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Well, folks. Tomorrow I will publish my indiegogo campaign
to help me pay the back-rent accrued when I was in chemo.
It’s been a short, strange, and amazing process.
About 2 weeks ago, I was sitting with a friend in a café, both of us
“applicationing,” online searching, looking for work, looking for authenticity.
I said to him, “You know my favorite thing I ever did? I
hosted this group art show in SF.”
I showed him the LocalArtists Productions page, practically
defunct and way out-dated. I told him how successful it was, people came,
people who didn’t know they could sell their art sold their art. I even sold some!
People laughed, ate, met, mingled. It was divine.
I then told my friend that I haven’t painted much since then. That I can’t really in my small apartment with a cat who likes to
walk over wet paint. I told him about this art studio I found while exploring
the 4th floor of my apartment building, and how I’d inquired to my landlord
about it, and how he’d said, yes, I can rent it for $25 a month(!!!), if I pay off my back rent.
Almost $4000 now. Out of work for 6 months, only working
part time after that. I racked up quite the debt. And have been slowly paying
it back. But…
Here’s where lightning struck. My friend said to me,
“You should do a Kickstarter. This is exactly the kind of thing people use
crowdfunding for.”
I looked at him, stunned, quizzical, a little vague. I tilted my head, trying to process what was just
said, offered, opened up before me.
I replied, incredulous, “I guess people would donate to a cancer survivor who wanted to make art
again, wouldn’t they?”
And so it was, 2 weeks ago we started something new.
Planning meetings, a few video shoots, a lot of “omigod, I’m
not even wearing any make-up, I wish I’d smile, I look awful” moments. And it’s
done. It’s being polished, and tomorrow morning, I will push this campaign out
into the world in the hopes that others will actually feel something from it.
In the hopes that I can stop writing “back-rent” in my
monthly budget. In the hopes that I can sever that weight of debt from that
time in my life.
As I sat with my friend going over the language in the
campaign, we have been talking a lot about “closing the cancer chapter.” And I
turned to him and said, “This isn’t closing it,
you know? This doesn’t make it ‘over.’
There is no “closed” when it comes to cancer. I’m in
remission. I’m 2 years into the 5 year “almost as healthy as normal people”
period. But it’s never closed. It can be moved on from in many ways, but the
simple existence of the campaign itself is proof that I’m willing to move into
the world in a way I wasn’t before
cancer.
Everything I do is in reaction to it.
I told my friend, tearfully, that this campaign is
important. It’s helpful. But it isn’t the end. The “closing the chapter” is a
great sound-byte, and I’m using it. But it was important for me to say to him,
“Not quite.”
For better or worse.
I am proud of the
strides I’ve made since being sick. I’m proud of the advancements and actions I’ve
taken – being in a band, singing, being in plays, a musical, going to Hawaii,
Boston, Seattle, trying dating again, flying a goddamned plane! – and I’m
overwhelmed by the support I have gotten.
But, it’s so hard to sit with the reality that I am who I am
because of what I went through.
I still get nervous when I get a sore throat, cuz that’s how
I was diagnosed. I still have to keep extra tabs on my health insurance. I still have
a butterfly-shaped scar on my chest where the chemo tube went.
And last week I put on a sweater I hadn’t worn in a while,
and pulled a strand of hair caught in it. The hair, my hair, was long, past
shoulder length. It was from before I was sick. Before my hair fell out.
It was like seeing a unicorn. Evidence of a mythical time. A
time called, “Before.”
It existed. I existed.
The cancer chapter isn’t closed. I don’t know if it ever
does.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t take action and strides and
make use of the persistent lesson to live.
I am proud of the
woman I have become and continue to evolve into. I know she exists now. And
maybe she always did. 

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