Monday, June 17, 2013

My Cancer Story's Better than Your Cancer Story

I was thinking this morning, as I was out painstakingly MISTING the fancy "all the way from England" low-spreading thyme seeds I've planted between the stones on the porch.  I was thinking about how much, as kids, we hate those adults who don't want you on the grass, who are forever admonishing you to not pick that or step over there or sit on that.

I was the kid who broke branches off pussy willows and pinched shoots off chives on my way to school.  I was the girl who got shouted at by the guy with the apple trees.  You know, the ground is littered with rotten, unused apples, yet the guy comes out with a shotgun (seriously) and shouts at us to stay off his apples?

While I haven't made the leap to shotgun-toting apple tree owner, fact is there's been a sea change somewhere along the line.  I think it came right around the time I started putting my own flowers and plants in.  I remember the first time I found myself going completely nutty over a kid in my yard.  We had a family that used to come and do the yard work every week.  I worked full time, my husband worked full time, we were both full-time university students, and there just wasn't time.  One day, they showed up with their three year old girl.  Adorable, lovely child who, while her parents mowed the grass, tore up my pansies and marigolds one by one.  By the time I got home and found this, she was sitting in the middle of my garden, surrounded by a few dozen broken, torn up, desiccating plants.

I lost it.  We were poor, we didn't have a lot of money, and those flowers had been my birthday gift.  We couldn't afford to replace them, and my heart was broken.

I refused to pay them for the yard work that week.  The next week, they weed-whacked my rose bushes out back (girdled and killed them), and that was it.  We found someone else.

The next time I got freaky on a kid (well, I didn't get freaky on the toddler, but you know what I mean) for yard damage?  After my wonderful neighbor/mentor/surrogate father Frank died, the local kids took to playing in his back yard.  These kids' parents were somewhat close to Frank's daughter, so I didn't step in.  But then, one day, they came running out of the back yard with huge, snapped off branches/limbs from Frank's blooming snowball bush.  I went in the back yard, and they had destroyed this large, beautiful bush Frank had planted and nurtured.  Broken it right down to the ground.  I was devastated, I was SO upset, and I shouted at the kids over it.  Spoke to their parents, who spoke to them, and the kids stopped playing in Frank's yard.  I'm sure those kids hated me, and it was the first time I realized I was becoming the garden shouter.

And since we've moved away from the west?  Well, we moved into a place with a torn up, sparse, weed-infested lawn that's taken a LOT of work (and money) to bring into some sort of shape.  We had just done the first raking and reseeding of the back yard when those scary-freak rat children from across the street came over.  They went out in our back yard, and I looked out to see them kicking up the soil and seed mixture, like that's something fun or something.  I didn't yell, but I did come out back and say, "Hey, guys, I can't have you playing out here, we're trying to get the grass to come back so we've put down seed."

They looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.  Seeing their back yard later, I understand why--it's all weeds and dust.

A couple of months later, those same kids came to our front lawn (now on its second reseeding) and were jumping up and down and peeking in our windows while we were eating.  They tore the new grass to bits, killed it.  And this time I did yell.

Front yard when we moved in

Front yard now

So, am I that crazy lady who freaks out on the kids who get in her yard?  Or am I just a woman who wants her yard to look nice and only objects when kids (or adults, to be fair to myself) tear up my stuff?

And to a kid, is there a difference?


So, someone on my Facebook friends list posted some snide, mean little meme about fat folks.  And, unbidden, the thought came into my mind, "I will never meet you.  If you come into town, I will have an excuse for why I can't meet you."  

I'm fat, you see.  I've been fighting it my whole life, since I was seven.  I've been terrifically thin (think a loose size one), and I've been incredibly large (can barely jam into an airplane seat large).  I've been each of these things more than once.  But being thin never scarred me, it never set me up for ridicule, it never broke my heart.  And so, in that broken heart, I am fat.  Regardless of my weight at the moment, I am forever fat, because being fat, and being mistreated because of my weight, are the things that made me who I am.  And if you post nasty memes, rotten pictures, cruel jokes, or otherwise use people who are heavy as humor points, you've lost me, because you've shown me what you think of me.

Yes.  ME.  That heavy woman in the stretch pants at Walmart?  She's ME.  That poor, sad woman on the park bench with her panniculus showing from under her skirt?  She's ME.  The NASCAR guy in the back of the truck with his belly hanging out?  He's ME.  The obese women in the bikinis being shared around Facebook because, ewww, isn't that awful?  All three of those women are ME.

In other words, when you share a photo of a heavy person for a laugh, when you point, stare, and say cruel or ugly things, you're doing those things to ME.  Which means there's no way I could ever be around you without knowing that I disgust you, I horrify you, you think I'm worthy of ridicule and abuse.  

Why would I want you in my house?  In my presence?  

Obviously, I wouldn't.  


It turns out there are "obese meme makers."  You know, they provide the pictures of the fat people, you provide the mean-spirited caption.  I was going to post a screen shot of one page (one page of many), but I just can't.  It's that awful.  


Still no word from the landlord.  It's been a week.  Turns out his daugher is local, which adds to the fear--what if he's promised the place to her?  He has until July 8th to let us know he wants to end the lease.  And if he does that?

We are SO screwed.  We have NO place to go, NO way of scraping together 1st and last plus deposit, and a sadly awful credit score right now.  Yes, we pay our bills on time, but our "credit to debt ratio" is awful, and we've got a bunch of inquiries on our record because of the car.  

What a scary thing.  I can't even adequately describe how afraid I am right now.  It's almost my birthday, and all I can think about is the lease, the landlord, and how we can't possibly bail this if he tosses us.


One last thing.  Melissa?  Ms. Etheridge?  Are you listening?

STFU. Seriously.  If you can't be empathetic, if you can't be supportive, if you can't be intelligent and reasonable and conversant in the science behind the BRCA gene mutations, if you can't be sympathetic to another woman facing cancer, a woman who lost her mother to this gene mutation, the least you can do is shut your woo-spewing, "Secret" spraying, "it comes from the INSIDE, not from genes" face and respect another human being's suffering.  Even if you don't like the devastating choice Ms. Jolie made, the very LEAST you can do is feel the pain and fear that went into it instead of barfing up your "that didn't take courage" crap.  You loud-mouthed, unkind person. Hush your face and spare us the "I'm a REAL survivor, she took the EASY way out" garbage. 

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