Filtering by Tag: HEALTH
You go to the place. You’ve done this before. You’re not a novice. In fact, you’re a pro. Because you’ve done this many, many times before. So, you get there early. Even so, other people get there before you. So, you have to wait. But not for long. Soon enough, someone tells you it’s time to go in the first room. There, a woman behind a computer does your paperwork. She hands you some papers and tells you where to go. You go down a hallway until you get to a locker room. There, a woman gives you a robe and a bag. You go in a smaller room and change. Then, you come back out. For a while, you wait in another room. Eventually, another woman comes out and tells you it’s time. When you walk in the final room, it’s just you and her. When you see the machine, you remember how big it is. Its plastic panels are waiting to squish your flesh between them so it can see what’s inside of you. For a moment, your mind skips. Is it this time, or the last time, or the time a long time ago when they looked inside and found something wrong with you? Just as quickly, you’re pulled back to reality. For maybe ten minutes, you and the machine are locked in an intimate embrace. One by one, it squeezes each breast as you drape your arms awkwardly around its hard frame. Finally, you’re done, and the only evidence it happened is the pink marks on your chest were it squeezed you so hard that you winced and the woman apologized. As you wait for the woman to hand you a piece of paper, you catch a glimpse of the inside of yourself on the screen. There you are: luminous, the flesh in the shape of your breast, inside of it a map of lines you cannot read. What can you do? You take the piece of paper, you walk out to the car, you wonder when they’ll call you and what they’ll tell you.
Buy my digital short story, “The Tumor” … “a masterpiece of short fiction.”
An excerpt from an unpublished essay:
“The tumor was mine. Arguably, it was my malignant baby, for my body had created it, and it was growing inside of me at an aggressive pace. But I did not want it. I wanted it out. There was a lot of debate over the best way to address the monster within me. The first oncologist wanted to chop off both my breasts and yank out my reproductive organs. After that, a plastic surgeon showed me his photo album filled with pictures of women whose heads were clipped out of the frame and whose breasts had been ravaged by cancer, the interior flesh of which had been removed by him, and which had been reconstructed in ways that did not, to my eye, look at all natural. Finally, a physician’s assistant came in the room after the plastic surgeon had left. I said I didn’t realize it would look like that, and he said he understood. He held one hand in the air palm up, and he held the other hand in the air palm down. His top hand made a tent over his bottom hand. He said my breast was like a circus tent and having a mastectomy was like taking away the tent pole. With that, he flattened his top hand against his bottom hand like a circus tent collapsing, crushing all the circus animals, carnival performers, and acrobats in the process.”
Buy my short story "The Tumor" — it’s been called "a masterpiece of short fiction."
Over at Forbes, I wrote about how I addressed a week-long tension headache with a $40 cannabis candy bar. Because why not? In California, it's perfectly legal. All I had to do is walk in the store and fork over the cash, no medical marijuana card required. My bespoke bar contained very little THC and an equivalent amount of CBD. Needless to say, it worked.
By the second hour, I did start feeling the effects of the THC. I'd taken such a small dose that it was almost imperceptible, but it did become more significant. I wasn't stoned. I was just ... more relaxed. Well, I was a little high. Everything seemed a bit more amusing, and the things I'd been obsessing over earlier in the day were passing by me like a deadheading train.
Buy a copy of my digital short story "The Tumor" that's been called "a masterpiece."
Next July, it will be five years since I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. This past summer marked my anniversary of four years cancer-free. Five years is a big deal, the time at which you're supposed to be out of the danger zone. Everyone who's had cancer wants to get there. Eventually, over time, it becomes a symbolic date more than anything else, a fantasy point at which you go from being NOT OK to OK. I'm almost there. Today requires a regular visit to the oncologist -- no big deal, just a check-in, no worries. Since I don't go to the oncologist as often now as I did in the beginning, there's a sense that I'm almost there. Still, it triggers. I get the sweats. I don't like to go. I wake up early. I want this to be over, I think. One day, it will be.
Support the arts! Buy a digital copy of THE TUMOR, a "masterpiece of short fiction" by me, Susannah Breslin.
Excerpt from a short story I wrote years ago:
"They were in a bar. They were in a bar with a woman and a man. It had been the two women, but they had made calls, and then the men had come. She knew when she talked to him that he was drunk. He was drunk and he was at a strip club nearby with one of his friends. Now, he was here. The other man and the other woman didn’t know each other as well as she and the man knew each other, even though the other man and the other woman had been dating for awhile. The other man had his arms crossed over his chest like he was trying to hide his heart. She looked at the man that she was with. She loved it when he was drunk. That was the only time he said what he wanted. Later, the other woman would tell her that her drunk boyfriend who had been at the strip club looked at her like she was his whole world. And, she thought: You bet."
Today I was doing some work on the work front: sending out resumes, querying ad firms about copywriting opportunities, sniffing about for freelance writing gigs. I ended up reading some old posts on my Forbes blog, which I wrote after I got downsized. They were mostly about freelancing, and they were really interesting. This one stuck out particularly: "How to Lose Your Job and Not Have a Nervous Breakdown."
I was downsized over the phone. I hung up the phone, then sat on the edge of my bed and examined the floor. I considered that I had not expected things would turn out this way. Yet, they had. Am I going to have another nervous breakdown? I asked myself. I was not. Now, when new challenges arise, I remind myself, At least it’s not a nervous breakdown.
Today I'm celebrating four years cancer-free! Yes, four years ago today, my oncologist said, "You're cancer-free," and then he kicked me out of his office. It was a great day.
Join me in celebrating by buying a copy of my cancer-inspired short story, "The Tumor."
THE TUMOR is a slipstream short story starring an anthropomorphic tumor, a killer husband, and an invisible woman. Based on the author's true life experience with cancer (she's fine now!), this terrifying tale will grab you by the balls and make you scream.
Apparently, a rugby player nearly lost his manhood in a tackle.
“There’s a photo of me screaming in pain, and I finished out the half. The pain was alright and then at half-time I was like, I’ve got to have a look. I checked on it and the skin is half ripped off and I was like, ‘Shit, where’s the doctor? Where’s the doctor?’
“They had to go and get the UTC doctor and he came in and checked it out and he was like, ‘Oh man, you’re going to have to go and get stitches,’ so I had to go to the clinic that night and they had to put 11 stitches around it to put the skin back together.
“I showed all the boys and they were pissing themselves laughing. In all of my career I’ve never heard of anyone having anything like that happen – 11 stitches in the dick."
I was thrilled to see this tweet from friend Sarah Wambold on the last day of last year:
"I've seen some impressive death positive growth on my twitter in 2014. Most notably @susannahbreslin and @J_Utah. The rest of you, good luck"
What's "death positive"? It's about being "open to exploring their thoughts, feelings, and fears about mortality." Death negative, one can surmise, is about pretending the inevitable isn't going to happen. It's like sex positive -- but more fatal.
Death, after all, is just an event.
I've never been great with deadlines, but when I set out to write The Fetish Alphabet, I had no idea it would take me 12 years to finish it. But, it did.
In 2002 (as I recall it, and since this story covers many years, it's possible I'm misremembering parts of it), I reached out to Andrew Gallix at 3:AM Magazine. Andrew teaches at the Sorbonne, and 3:AM's slogan is "Whatever it is, we're against it," a phrase I wouldn't mind having pounded into my gravestone. (You can read more about 3:AM's illustrious history here.) I believe I pitched him the idea of a fetish alphabet. An alphabet. Of fetishes. A series of flash fictions exploring erotic derangements. He must've said yes because at some point off we went. A Google search reveals I wrote six installments -- A through F -- which were published between August and November of 2002. And then, for reasons I can no longer recall, I stopped.
A year later, I published You're a Bad Man, Aren't You? with Future Tense Books. It was a collection of short stories I'd written and included a few of the fetish stories. That same year, I worked with artist Anthony Ventura on an illustrated version of The Fetish Alphabet. He beautifully illustrated the stories I'd written, and I wrote some more. I mean, look at this illustration for "A Is for Anthropophagy." Amazing. Some recent poking about online indicates I rewrote some of the letters -- for example, I changed "B Is for Bestiality" to "B Is for Bukkake" -- and I believe we got as far as O. And then, for reasons I can no longer recall, I stopped.
Of course, this always bugged me -- the whole lot of it. That I had started it and not finished it. That it had been one thing and then another thing but never a finished thing. That I had said I would do it, yet in the end I had not. Over the following years, life happened. I moved, and I was broke, and I got sideswiped by Hurricane Katrina, and I moved again, and I worked as a waitress, and I moved again, and I got married, and I had cancer, and I got better, and we moved, and so on and so on. Buffeted by the waves, I suppose, or perhaps more like a drunk weaving back and forth across the road of life. Depends on how you look at it.
One day this year, I woke up, and I wasn't moving anymore, and I wasn't broke anymore, and I wasn't single anymore, and I wasn't sick anymore, and I wasn't in the eye of a storm anymore. Still, I had spent a lot of this year feeling like I was failing at things. Or at least not particularly succeeding at things. I wanted to do one thing and finish it. One. Thing. For fuck's sake. So I would know that I could. In that spirit, in November, I undertook a 30-day yoga challenge, and, to my quasi-surprise, I finished it. And then I set out to write 30 fictions in 30 days on my blog, and I did that, too. And after the former and during the latter, I emailed Andrew again, 12 years after the fact, and I asked if he would be interested in me finishing The Fetish Alphabet, and, luckily enough, he was kind enough and generous enough to give me the space to do it. The subject of my email to him on November 21: "An indecent proposal."
Today, the alphabet is done through W. I found a few of the ones I'd written along the way -- H, M, and O -- and the rest were lost. As of this writing, you can read The Fetish Alphabet through Q at 3:AM. A lovely woman named Emma posts them. That means X, Y, and Z are the only ones left. I told Andrew I'd do one every day, and for a while I did, but I ended up missing a few days here and there. Right now, that 12-year deadline is so close I can taste it, and you know what it tastes like? It tastes like rich New Orleans soil and bloody surgical gloves, aviation fuel perfume and prickly south Texas cacti, plastic bags filled with lavender air and the inside of an over-worn wedding ring. Surely, there are fetishes for all these things, including finishing things.
I TOLD EVERYONE I KNEW THAT I WOULD BLOG EVERY DAY BUT I BECAME TERRIBLY DEPRESSED AND SO I WENT TO THE DOCTOR WHO PRESCRIBED ME BLAÜG WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO REMEDY THIS DISEASE BUT CAUSED MY SCALP TO FORM A RASH AND LEFT ME UNABLE TO BATHE OR BRUSH MY HAIR OR TEETH FOR DAYS AT A TIME AND WHEN I LOOKED INTO THE MIRROR THE MIDDLE INDENTED AND MY FACE CONCAVED
Time: 4 minutes
Word count: 73 words
Sickness is grammar. The needle inserted, one may adopt the position of a comma (curled on chair, legs as tail, head as dot). Over time, one may reconfigure as a question mark (spine curved, head tucked, question unanswered). If prognosis proves dire, one may assume the exclamation point (rigor mortis body, death the full stop point). Semicolons are loved ones (disjointed reactions, blind third eyes, space between items mirroring fractured relationships). See also: ampersands (problematic reworkings of memory post-separation form Gordian knots).
Time: 15 minutes
Word count: 82