Monthly Archives: June 2013

Moving Day

“This is totally the big important scene in the theoretical movie of your life – little girl off to the big city,” joked my (now former) roommate Kristen as she dropped me off at the train station this morning in Richmond to await my ride to New York City.

The big day is finally here – I’m moving!

In fact, I’m writing this from my cozy Amtrak seat, as trees and dirt roads and sun-soaked waterways whip by in the window. I hate the whole strip-search-followed-by-cramming-humans-into-a-sardine-tin-then-launching-its-twenty-ton-metal-body-30,000-feet-into-the-air ordeal of flying, so when I can, I always prefer to take the train. I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog that I have a weird fascination with trains, like the kind of fascination that’s probably more appropriate for a four-year-old boy. Whenever I spot one (a train, not a four-year-old boy), I can’t stop myself from blurting out, “TRAIN!” Richmond actually has the world’s only triple-level train trestle, where three tracks cross each other like a steel braid, and my friends make a lot of fun of me for caring at all about that little fact and, one time, going so far as to drag them to go look at it in Shockoe Slip. Whatever though, trains are amazing.

If you don’t know a lot about Richmond, let me tell you, it ranks highly on a lot of lists. Some of them are stuff like “Most Murders,” but still. Moving is always bittersweet, and Richmond is a cool town, even though people from New York clearly think it’s the lamest place on Earth. When the movers – two dudes about my age – came down from Brooklyn to pack up my room, one of them asked me in a bewildered voice, “So…what do you do here for fun?” Like we literally didn’t even have bars or restaurants. I was tempted to throw on my thickest Southern accent and say, “Well, if the weather ain’t right for catfish noodling, we’ll head on down to the barn for a hootenany!” (Which, let’s be real, doesn’t sound that bad. I could go for a hootenany.)

It’s weird to see your whole life reduced to boxes, to see your room stripped of all the things that made it yours – the pictures, the polka dotted sheets, the Ikea mirror, the Absolut bottle filled with fake hydrangeas. It’s easy to forget that at their core, most rooms are just white boxes, waiting to be personalized. Of course, my white box in Richmond was 18×15′, and my white box in New York is 7×10′, but that’s neither here nor there.

Even though I took a six-month hiatus in Los Angeles, I’ll miss a lot of things about Richmond – like its slow, deliberate, drawling pace, its spacious coffee shops, its pastel-colored row homes, its inability to remember/acknowledge that the Civil War ended 150 years ago, its warm river banks, its cobblestoned avenues. I’ll miss the people, too – my second family, Katie Bo’s family, and their beautiful farmhouse; all the tattoo’d hipsters and their fixie bikes; my professors; and not least of all my friends, of whom I am so proud as they all begin their careers around the country.

But while I’ve got a healthy dose of missing my family and my friends and the familiar in my old haunts, I’m mostly excited. I impulse-bought a headboard and a new duvet cover, because I’m An Adult now and An Adult should have things like headboards and use words like “duvet.” I’m planning to paint an accent wall in my new 7×10′ white box. (To be clear, the 7×10′ white box is just my room. The whole apartment is larger. Slightly.) I found a color called June Day, a dusty yellow that’s perfect in so many ways – the same color as my childhood bedroom, and with a name that reminds me of the day I finished chemotherapy. I’m going to buy a tea kettle too. Because I’m An Adult. And An Adult should not make tea in a saucepan.

I’m also going to need a window air conditioning unit, because hot flashes are intense, you guys. I used to be like, “Ha ha, hot flashes! Old ladies are so hilarious when they stand in the fridge or roll down all the car windows in December!” But I’m not laughing anymore, because chemical menopause is the WORST and hot flashes can SUCK IT. I’ll just be chillin’ out, doing my thing, and then all of the sudden it’s hotter than the surface of the sun and I’m soaked in sweat and looking around for frozen things to put on my face and then, five minutes later, I’m freezing and I need a sweater.

So here I am, 25 years young, enjoying chemically induced menopause and wielding moderately-sized fake boobies and being nerdily excited about trains like a little boy and on my way to New York City. Life!

Chemotherapy #6: The Doppler Effect

It’s taken me a few days to get this post up, and I apologize for that. There are a few reasons:

First, I’ve just felt like complete and utter crap, which of course is par for the chemotherapy course but doesn’t make it any less miserable.

Second, I’ve been sorting through a lot of emotions and coming to terms with what being done with chemotherapy means for me, both good and bad.

Third, I saw 6 Fast 6 Furious which is the first movie I’ve seen in theatres in FOREVERRRRR and it’s totally insane, so yeah, that’s been taking up a lot of mental real estate. Do you know how weird it is to get in a car and drive along at a totally normal speed slash not go up into any cargo airplanes or drift around anything or flip your vehicle over a bridge after you leave a Fast and Furious movie? Super weird, guys. Super weird.

But back to the first and second points, which are probably more salient to this blog. (Maybe? Would you guys object if I turned this into a 6 Fast 6 Furious fan page?)

The thing I keep coming back to is time. It just…passed. And events happened. And now I’m here. I know, I know, time heals all wounds – how many times did I roll my eyes over that phrase when my middle school boyfriend broke up with me and my mom tried to comfort me? But now it’s the thought I can’t get out of my head, because for so long I thought this day would never come and that I’d be stuck in the chemo vortex forever and ever, and now here I am, on the other side of it. Healed. Sort of.

I remember back in December when I was first diagnosed, and in January when I went for my first set of scans and IV pokes and other medical BS, and how the doctors kept reminding me that it was going to be a shitty six months, but that was all – six months, and I’d be able to start getting back to normal. Six months felt impossibly long to me then. I mean, to be honest with you, I’m not an especially patient person – if a date is further away than the release of the last movie trailer I saw, it’s probably too far away for me to be even vaguely aware of its existence or anything I need to do to prepare for it. But now I feel like those six months have gone by in the blink of an eye. Is it June already? How?!

It reminds me of all the other important things in my life that blew by before I had time to register they were even approaching, like college graduation and my entire adolescence (why was I never cool like today’s tweens? They make it look so awesome and trendy but I ruined it by being a big nerd the whole time!). There’s actually a term for it, or rather, a term that due to my faulty knowledge of physics and English-major propensity for metaphor I’m going to appropriate for it – the doppler effect – the way a car’s engine gets louder and louder as it approaches and then zooms by in one moment of fantastic sound and fury and then fades into the distance while you’re left on the side of the road like, WTF was that thing? Basically, my whole life – and not least of all this cancer experience – has been the doppler effect.

I can’t believe that I’m finished with chemotherapy. In one week I’ll move to New York. In ten days I’ll start my new job. On July 6 I’ll watch my beautiful friend Caroline marry the love of her life. In early August Gordie and I will go for a summer beach vacation. I see all of these things coming, like the doppler effect car engine, but I know that no matter how hard I try to stretch out all of these moments they’ll blast by me fast enough to give me whiplash.

Let me clarify, though, that although I’ve finished with the whole pump-your-veins-full-of-poison thing, I’m not done with cancer treatment. Cancer cells can go haywire in a variety of patterns, and I was fortunate that mine decided to go berserk in as many ways as possible – meaning we can throw the kitchen sink at me and keep on treatin’ me for years to come. I’ll have twelve months of Herceptin infusions, which are given intravenously and require me to sit in a hospital but don’t cause hair loss, sickness or any of the other chemo nastiness. (So whatever, sign me up – a couple of hours every three weeks dedicated to reading Us Magazine in what’s basically a budget pedicure chair? I’m there.) After that, I have five years of Tamoxifen, an estrogen blocker that’ll keep me in the early menopause I’ve been enjoying so thoroughly these past few months.

Knowing that I’ll be actively “fighting” cancer for at least five more years saves me, I think, from a bit of the emotional distress that typically accompanies the end of chemotherapy treatment. I don’t feel unprotected – rather, I feel as though I have an army of some of the world’s best doctors and drugs at my back. And don’t fret, readers! I still have so much to say about life post-chemo, post-boobs and post-hair (and I guess pre-hair, now, since I expect to get it back eventually), this blog ain’t going anywhere.

If there is anyone out there reading this blog who is just starting their own awkward and crappy journey with cancer, I hope I’ve made it clear that my main point about chemotherapy is this: WAIT, IT’S OVER ALREADY? I THOUGHT WE JUST STARTED??

If that doesn’t give you some hope about getting through treatment, then you need to buy some Ben & Jerry’s stat. ‘Cause Ben & Jerry’s is always my plan B.

I’m going to have to work on that patience thing, though, because there are so many other things to wait for now. Like my hair, which won’t start growing back for another month or two, and won’t be acceptable to take out in public until sometime around my birthday in October. And my boobs, which will be officially replaced with gummy bear implants near Christmastime. (MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME, AM I RIGHT?) Not to mention 7 Fast 7 Furious. Hurry up, 2014!

Ten Things I Learned Between Richmond and Los Angeles

You guys.

YOU GUYS.

I knew road trips were cool and American and sort of a rite of passage for adventurous, creative types like myself, or at least like I imagine myself to be. But I had no idea they were SO INCREDIBLY AWESOME.

First of all, America is amazing so I’m going to include some tunage here to get you in the right mood to read this post. As a general rule I keep this blog pretty PG in terms of language but I simply cannot pass up this opportunity. Press play (make sure no kids and/or people who don’t like swearing are around) and come with me on a magical journey. U-S-A, U-S-A!!!!!!!!

I wanted to tell you all about my experience on the road, but there’s simply too much – and too much that’s just inexpressible – to relate in a linear, chronological way. So instead, I made a list of what I learned during the last seven days on the road.

A few disclaimers about the post: It’s going to be long. It has absolutely nothing to do with cancer, perhaps because (happily!) cancer is playing less and less of a role in my life these days. And if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen most of these pictures before – but I hope you’ll enjoy them again!

Ten Things I Learned Between Richmond and Los Angeles

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Our weird Freaky Friday outfit switch was not intentional.

1. Only road trip with someone you love and who loves you, no matter what. Y’all, things are going to get weird. Think you’re normal? Not after 8 nonstop hours of driving, you’re not. You will be losing your mind. Not in a bad way, either – you’ll just be laughing your head off at the stupidest things, shifting around in your seat like you have hemorrhoids and letting your freak flag fly.

Driving into Nashville, Katie’s phone GPS started scolding us for pulling off the interstate into a gas station and she cradled it like a baby while stroking it and whispering, “Shhh, shhh.” The next morning I absolutely insisted on eating a Bojangles biscuit and self-soothed by murmuring to myself, “We’ll get biscuits…we’ll get biscuits…” (We did; it was our only fast food stop, and the woman looked at us like we were insane when all we ordered was two biscuits. She was like, “And…?” And we were like, “NO JUST BISCUITS. BISCUITS FOREVER!!!”) Pulling into Albuquerque, after nearly 11 hours of driving, we rolled down the windows and just yelled at nothing like the goats in those “Goats Screaming Like People” videos.

You’ll be sleep-deprived, hungry and you’ll have to pee for long stretches at a time but when you pull over to pee on the road you’ll step on some grass and a million grasshoppers will leap out of it and you won’t be able to do it and you’ll have to hold it forever and ever and just when you think you’re going to die a magical rest stop will appear but wait is it a mirage no it’s a real rest stop OHMYGOD and then you’ll FINALLY be able to pee. You’ll argue occasionally, but more often than that you’ll laugh and talk about how lucky and happy you are to be doing this amazing thing together.

If you’re not road-tripping with someone you’re actively in a relationship with, it will feel like you are by the end of it. Katie Bo and I started telling stories as “we” the way a well-established couple does – “We were talking about that today!” “Do you want to come to dinner with us?” “We were just laughing about that silly thing Katie does.” She also has short hair, because she cut it for me when mine started to fall out, which does not make us look any less like a loving and functional lesbian couple, not that we care.

At one point we shared the road with some bikers and Katie Bo mentioned that she’d like to get a motorcycle one day, to which I replied that I had no desire to own a motorcycle but that I’d totally ride on the back of hers.

“Okay, no, that’s where I draw the line,” she said. “That is just TOO lesbian.”

2. The only liquid more important than gasoline is coffee. I probably spent $500+ on gasoline for the trip, which is about the same amount we spent on coffee. If you didn’t know this about me, I’m a caffeine junkie – the front page of my professional portfolio website is a shot of the neon sign in front of Champ’s in Brooklyn that says “Death Before Decaf” with my face reflected in the glass below it. Here is our daily coffee schedule:

7am-9am, depending on the length of the day’s drive: Stop for coffee before hitting the road. Probably order a red-eye. Or a JFK, so named because it has three shots in it. Tasteless, yet clever. My favorite.

11am: Have finished the first coffee. Stop for second coffee. Probably iced because now it’s 10,000 degrees outside and I’m getting a shorts tan/sunburn from sitting in the car with the sun streaming in through the window.

1pm: Need more coffee. Perhaps too jittery for another espresso, might switch to iced tea.

3pm: Chug a giant smartwater.

5pm: One more coffee to power through the end of the drive. You might think we’d switch to decaf by now, but you’d be wrong. NEVER.

I discovered my new favorite thing at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, part of the original marketplace in the French quarter – chicory coffee. Chicory is a root that is sometimes added to coffee to cut the bitterness, and while I like my coffee absolutely midnight black with no cream or sugar, I have to admit that the chicory root makes it substantially more delicious, almost like a dessert. I’m hooked, and now I’m screwed because it can be tough to find it outside of NOLA. Fortunately, you can order it online – although I’m not sure if I’m happy that I can sustain my addiction despite being 2,000 miles from Lousiana or sad that the internet has made this regional treat something I no longer have to earn by driving 16 hours to the bayou.

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Seriously, though, gasoline is more important than coffee. Do not run out of gas. There were some very long and desolate stretches on our trip, especially through what is essentially still the Wild West in western Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, where we didn’t see a single town, let alone a gas station or a bar of cell phone service. Sometimes we’d get so caught up in singing along with our favorite songs or listening to a Louis C.K. set while I practiced my bad stand-up in preparation for the act I may or may not do in NYC hoping to be discovered by someone from Saturday Night Live that we’d forget to check the gas gauge and find ourselves genuinely distressed that we might run out and be stranded and die in the desert and our bones would be discovered clutching each other helplessly by anthropologists in 2513 or something.

Basically, what I’m saying is, if you go on a road trip, keep your priorities straight. Gasoline first, then coffee. Then somewhere way down the list, water, I guess. Whatever.

3. Couch surf; beds are overrated. We were fortunate to be able to stay with friends in every city we visited, except for the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. We visited friends on small stopovers in between cities, too – like my friend Julia in Knoxville, Tennessee, or Katie Bo’s cousin Crisman in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

In Nashville, we met up with a friend and fellow UVA alumna named Carly at a local bar where we watched three boys with guitars and cowboy boots sit on stools and play covers of our favorite country tunes. We bought them a round of longnecks and they played my favorite song, Take It Easy by the Eagles, and came over to do a Fireball shot with us after the set was over.

In New Orleans, we stayed with Ann Marshall, also a fellow Virginia alum who now literally works for the New Orleans tourism board. She was incredible, taking us on a tour of the city that included an authentic dinner of gumbo and alligator sausage (described on the menu with nothing but the tagline, “It is what it is!!!”), a ride down the mardi gras parade route on the streetcar (where we could see multicolored beads hanging from the tree branches and power lines) and a walk down both Bourbon Street, the strangest collection of debauchery and nudity I have ever seen which is somehow still bizarrely appealing (perhaps it’s the alcohol served from to-go windows?), and Frenchman street, where we watched street musicians play creole jazz on tubas and trombones.

In Dallas, we stayed with our amazing friend Rebecca – not a Wahoo, but a semi-Charlottesvillian at least; good thing we went to college or we wouldn’t be nearly so well-connected – who took us out to a lake by her newly-purchased home (adulthood!!!!!!) before we all went out in her massive truck for agave margaritas and brisket tacos at a cute tex mex place where we dined on the patio in the warm summer air.

In Albuquerque, our friend Leslie and her boyfriend Matt took us on a walk to a ridge by their apartment overlooking the entire city, where we watched the sun set bright pink and light up the Sandia Mountains (so named because they glow rosy like watermelons in the dusk) before night fell and the whole city glistened below us, a sparkly oasis in the vast desert. We had elk burgers on Route 66 and huevoes rancheros in the morning to bid adieu to an old town made of old pueblos and signs in Spanish.

In Las Vegas, we met up with my brother, his friend Pat (who shaved my head!), my friend Hayley and her boyfriend Peter, where general Vegas debauchery was had – but not as much as in my younger days, since, as Hayley put it, “Most of the time I’d rather be home with a sandwich.” Amen, sistah.

The places you’ll see on a road trip are great, but the people are just as good.

4. “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)” is a quote from an e. e. cummings poem oft-quoted in Facebook profiles. To me, the line is about the power of memory: that it can take something ethereal and fleeting by nature, like love, and make it permanent in the mausoleum of one’s own heart.

In the Petrified Forest in Arizona, there are signs all over the park reminding visitors not to take pieces of petrified wood with them when they leave, as thoughtless souvenir hunters doing this in the days before the site was designated a National Park resulted in the loss of many of these irreplaceable treasures. Naturally, however, when I found a little shard of petrified wood glistening on the path in front of me…well, that’s different. I can just slip it into my pocket and take it home, right? It’s different, right? It’s only a tiny sliver; no one will know.

I honestly considered sneaking my little piece or memorabilia out of the park, but ultimately thought better of it. I don’t need the wood because I carry it in my heart. I saw it, and I’ll have that forever. It’s better, I think, if I can’t show you the wood. You’ll have to go and see it for yourself, so you can carry it in your heart, too.

I carry the whole trip in my heart, and I always will, now. There are some things that a souvenir can’t replicate, that a photograph just can’t capture – things you can only carry with you.

5. Eat everything. Back in our college days, Katie Bo and I used to go to iHop for some inexplicable reason (gross, I know) and we’d joke that calories didn’t count there, despite the fact that they obviously did and that’s probably why I literally gained a zillion pounds as a first year. Anyway, I didn’t learn anything and CALORIES TOTALLY DON’T COUNT ON ROAD TRIPS. We ate gumbo, beignets and “voodoo” flavored potato chips in New Orleans, margaritas, brisket tacos and roadside pit barbecue in Texas, Mexican food smothered in green chiles in Albuquerque, and $80 worth of sushi and cocktails in Las Vegas and it was worth every love handle and extra chin I’m gonna pay for it with.

In fact, we originally conceived of this road trip as a gastronomic tour of the United States, and we were amazed at every stop at the local flavor (pun intended, deal with it) that we encountered. The differences between say, New Orleans and Albuquerque, culinarily, were so stunning as to feel like they belonged in entirely separate countries.

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Oh, I forgot that I also ate an enormous chocolate Butterfinger brownie in New Orleans. YOLO.

6. Accept that the car will become a disgusting hovel of slovenliness and gluttony. My car needs a good detailing. Not only is it freckled with the carcasses of a trillion unlucky/stupid insects, its interior is dotted with potato chip crumbs, Triscuit fragments, trail mix pieces and all other matter of snackery.

In order to avoid stopping at fast food joints, which would have ruined our desire to see (and eat) the authentic soul of everywhere we traveled, we packed a styrofoam cooler full of semi-healthy items like string cheese, carrot sticks, apples, delicious chicken salad made by Katie Bo’s mom and plenty of water bottles to trot out whenever we got a bit peckish on the road. Sadly, the ice inside said cooler eventually melted and then somehow leaked all over the backseat of my car which now smells like a mildewy towel. Despite this, we preserved in refilling the cooler with ice whenever it got low and eating just about everything it without once stopping for chain restaurant food with the exception, mentioned above, of pulling through a Bojangles in Athens, Alabama to order nothing but two biscuits.

I am sort of weirdly proud to admit that I bought this car in mid-2011 and have never once washed it, but now I’m going to have to break that streak. It’s probably for the best.

7. Pack whatever you think you’ll want/need, then immediately unpack three-fourths of it. I pretty much wore 5 items of clothing on this entire road trip despite the fact that I packed the largest suitcase in the world full of every single garment I own that I like. (Which, don’t be fooled, is actually only like half of them.) In reality, all I needed were a few comfy, breezy tank tops, a light jacket (for the Grand Canyon, where it’s cold at night) and a pair of shorts. Done. You’ll sleep in underwear and the tank top, trust me. You will be too lazy to wear that cute pajama set. Just leave it at home.

8. Nerd out, you’ll learn cool stuff. Katie Bo and I whipped out Wikipedia at every opportunity and learned some truly amazing things about the cities we visited.

Even though we planned out an itinerary that included stops in some of the most amazing and unique cities in America, like Nashville and New Orleans and Las Vegas, some of the most incredible stuff we saw was in between the big destinations.

It was the zeppelin mooring – the last zeppelin mooring in the entire world – at the top of the decrepit and forgotten Leer Tower in Birmingham, Alabama, where stopped for (what else?) coffee. It was the St. Louis cemetery just outside of New Orleans, where brownish residue on the sides of above-ground mausoleums housing jazz legends, writers and voodoo priestesses marks the height flood waters rose to during Hurricane Katrina. It was the state building in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, visible as we crossed the mighty Mississippi, that Huey Long insisted on building before he was assassinated in it. It was the ghost town of Cerbat, located some three miles from highway 93 in western Arizona down a dirt road marked only with faded, bullet-riddled signage and “No Trespassing” signs that we ignored, where an old mine built in the 1800s still stands, weathered but defiant, under the fierce sun of the desert.

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9. There is still space. Leslie’s boyfriend Matt mentioned that he had road tripped across the country in the past, and that the thing he was most surprised to discover was that there was still space. “I thought there was no space left,” he said. I guess I kind of thought that too, but I was wrong. Most of what we drove through was space.

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We drove for miles through open fields in Alabama and Texas, where cattle and horses grazed and tall, yellow stalks swayed in the wind; high, flat buttes in New Mexico dotted with cacti through which endless trains weaved their mechanical entrails; dense forests full of flowering and fragrant magnolia trees in Mississippi; swampy, algae-covered bayous that lined the three-digit state highway we took in Louisiana. We drove past poverty, too – rusting trailers located a million miles from anything, sweltering in the summer heat.

The whole thing was a powerful reminder that America, developed as it is, is in many ways still a wilderness to be explored by anyone willing to sit in a car for 50 hours.

10. I am a tiny and insignificant speck of dust floating through the universe for what amounts to the blink of an Almighty Being’s eye.

Out of everything we saw and did on a trip, which was more (and more incredible) than I could ever accurately describe here, nothing was more moving than the Grand Canyon. Cliche as it is, this 227 mile long gash is as stunning as everyone says it is. First of all, who knew there was such amazing forest in Arizona? The kind of forest that elk roam through, where pine trees scent the air and you need a campfire at night?

The Grand Canyon is indeed grand. It’s breathtaking to behold. I got vertigo just walking up the edge of it. What amazed me most about it, perhaps, is that whether I die in 5 years or 50, I’ll never see the thing change. For millions of years, long before there was ever a human eye to look at it and feel dizzy at its sheer magnitude, the canyon has been forming – and it’ll keep forming long after I’m gone. My time here is so short as to be wholly insignificant to the Grand Canyon. All I can do is marvel at it and remember how amazingly spectacular and powerful and slow and deliberate nature is in its beauty.

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Pulling up to my parents’ house at the end of a 3,500 mile journey, we were both relieved to have completed the whole trip without a single accident, speeding ticket or mental breakdown. But we were sad, too – sad that the trip was over, and that we can’t keep living it – we can only carry it in our hearts.

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In cancer news, MY FINAL CHEMOTHERAPY TREATMENT (hopefully ever) IS TOMORROW! Stay tuned to hear how it goes.

The hostesses with the mostesses go coast to coastesses

Truthfully, at my core, I am an intensely active person. I need constant stimulation, like a border collie puppy: THROW MORE FRISBEES OR I’LL EAT THIS COUCH CUSHION.

If you’ve been reading this blog from the start, then you know that as a general rule, I like to have anywhere between two and two million plates in the air at any time. Running a half marathon, training for a full marathon, participating in an outdoor fitness class that meets rain, shine or snow at 6am in a dark field somewhere, balancing a full graduate course load, freelance writing on the side and still finding time to get drunk on patios with my friends might make me sound pretty Type A, but it’s all a trick of inertia. Once you start an activity, it’s easy enough to continue, especially if you find that activity enjoyable.

Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. Take away those activities – put me in a hospital bed for a week or my living room’s chaise lounge for a month while I convalesce and fall in love all over again with Elliot Stabler (and Olivia Benson, whatever, we’re all a little gay) – and all of the sudden it’s like I’m one of those tamagotchis you reset by sticking a bobby pin into a button on the back. I forgot virtually all the tasks I used to be so adept at, like running or doing my own dishes or being any kind of functional human being at all. I morphed into a vaguely person-shaped conglomerate of blankets, TV remotes and bowls full of macaroni and cheese. The radioactive kind you make in the microwave. Sorry I’m not sorry.

Some primal laziness mode was activated in me. I was literally inventing new ways to be lazy. For example, sometimes I want/need to wash my face, but then I look at the sink and I’m all like, “Aw man, I gotta wait for this thing to heat up, and then I gotta bend down and get my face all in there, and rub soap in my eyes, and splash water all over my clothes inevitably, and it’s just gonna be SUCH A HASSLE.” And then I’m like, “Screw this, I’m just gonna shower.”

Because, you guys! When you’re bald, a shower and washing your face honestly take about the same amount of time. I’m going to get undressed to put my jammies on anyway, so whatever. The shower heats up instantaneously, while the sink must wait for the ancient hearths to strike the heated irons or some other archaic nonsense that takes, like, 5 whole minutes. So boom – hop in the shower, wash my face, towel off, put on jammies. DONE.

So in a way, my laziness is actually the mother of progress, because I’m so lazy that I’ll go out of my way to come up with new ways of doing things just to be able to do them in a way that more conforms to my laziness ideals. I have no proof of this, like not even a shred, but I bet Thomas Edison invented the light bulb because that sonbitch was sick of striking matches and buying (making? I have a poor grasp of historical commerce) candles.

But, like the border collie puppy, I can only be lazy for so long before I need to go run aimlessly in circles in the backyard for two hours while barking at the decibel level of a regional jet until the neighbors start asking themselves why they didn’t get little Jimmy that BB gun for Christmas last year after all.

And that is why, dear readers, against all common sense and possibly some medical advice (?), I am driving from Richmond, Virginia to Los Angeles, California over the next seven days.

A lot of people have asked me about my travel, and whether or not I feel up to all of the stuff I’ve been doing over the last couple months of my treatment. Truthfully, I feel like absolute ass for the week following my infusion, so during that time I usually do hibernate with Netflix and string cheese, ignoring all calls and snapping at my parents. But for the two weeks after that, I’m good to go! Aside from some lingering fatigue and a passing moment of nausea here and there, I feel up to all the things I’m doing, and it’s been paying off.

I got a job (!) in New York (!!) and it starts in less than four weeks (!!!). I’m immensely thrilled about this and I just realized that even though it happened officially a couple of weeks ago, I neglected to mention it here. So anyway, as happy as I am about my job (and I genuinely am excited to get started in a creative career), there are some things I want to get out of my system before it’s back to the 9-to-5, and the road trip is one of them. Chemo be damned.

The reasons I am doing this trip are sixfold:

1.  Pragmatically, I have a car in Richmond, Virginia that needs to be in Los Angeles, California. I could ship it, I guess, if I wanted to pay $3,000 for a stranger to put it on the world’s most unsafe-looking truck-device with 10 other cards headed for the junkyard or something. I could do that, but…no. That’s how the car got out to Richmond in the first place, and it arrived so caked in bug guts that I think it has PTSD flashbacks to mass insect murder on I-40.

2. I want to drive across the country. We live in a nation so vast, so diverse in culture, weather, geography, climate, cuisine and history that to spend one’s life only flying over it while listening to Pit Bull on one’s iPhone even after the flight attendants said “Please turn off your electronic devices” is to cheat oneself of a spectacular adventure.

3. Cancer stole six months of my 20s. That’s 1/20 of, arguably, the best decade of my life. Whether out of a true sense of wanderlust or just pure spite, I will now try to cram six months’ worth of joy, discovery and fun into a single week.

4. One time, my mom made some Pillsbury Crescent Rolls for Thanksgiving dinner.  This is relevant; bear with me. She made, like, 25 of them, because our relatives were over, and put them in a nice basket. Enter Michelle, age 12 and hungry. I ate every single croissant, felt sick to my stomach for hours, and to this day I will not touch a Pillsbury Crescent Roll. Since I’m a gal who occasionally likes a Sunday drive and I’m moving to New York City, where such drives will be a thing of the past, I hope that by the end of this roadtrip, sitting behind the wheel of a car will be my new stomach-turning Pillsbury Crescent Roll.

5. The timing is just right. My grad school career is over, but my new job hasn’t started yet. My best friend, partner in crime, platonic soulmate, the Turk to my J.D., the girl behind the old copy of Gone With the Wind with “burdens are for shoulders strong enough to bear them” underlined and at least partially responsible for the Sequin Soldiers photoshoot, who mailed me socks with owls of them, who I listed as an emergency contact somewhere recently, is also available and is coming with me: Katie Bo.

6. Not that I’m going to kick the bucket – no plans to do so just yet – but the American summer cross country road trip is a HUGE bucket list item for me. I’m checking it off now, just in case. I’m relatively confident that this cancer will take the asswhooping my doctors are handing it as a sign never to return, but you never know, something else completely random could get me at any minute. I once heard a terminally ill cancer patient joke, “I mean…I still wear my bike helmet.” You never know, y’all. Now is always the right time when it comes to bucket list items.

If you want to see the sights with me and Katie Bo, follow me on Instagram

See you on the road!