Monday, September 3, 2007


Yesterday, Dude, the kiddins, and I walked to Main Street to get a newspaper. It's been (surprise, surprise) gray and drizzly here in Vancouver the past few days, and this morning was the first that I noticed that the room has been much darker when I wake up at 7 am, which means that summer is petering out. When we left the house, I had a bandanna on, but as we were taking our short cut through the hospital parking lot, my head started to get itchy. DH said to just take the bandanna off because who cares. I'm all like, "Yeah, easy for you to say, you don't have to walk around without any hair." He's all like, "Do you want me to shave my head?" I'm like, "Still not the same--you could get it really really short, but you'd still have hair."

So for the next two blocks to Main, I took off the bandanna, and the itchiness stopped. People would stare briefly, then look down quickly. When we got to the corner where my regular Starbucks hang out is, we had to wait for the light to turn to cross the street, and I was extremely uncomfortable. This is me--the girl who used to get tons of tattoos and piercings that invited people to stare. Back in the day, I wanted people to look at me. I wanted little kids to stand mesmerized by my lip ring, nose rings, septum ring, and tattoos, and then I would stick out my tongue at them so they could see the gold stud piercing it.

Baldness is different. Especially if it's not really something you came upon willingly. First of all, I can't get over how freakish I look. I'm not rocking the baldness. I need to dress it up, make it my own, before I can feel comfortable with it. I was Googling "temporary tattoos vancouver" to see if I could find any place that sold decent temporary tattoos that I could put on my head, but what I came up with were expensive kits to do airbrushing temp tats at home. I don't know if I can justify blowing a few hundred bucks quite yet just so I don't feel so exposed, but it's an idea.

Another issue with the baldness is that people look at me, the hubby, and the kids and quickly figure out that we're a family--then they look back at me and look sad. I guess because the rest of me doesn't look freakish (I'm not wearing bad-ass clothing or anything to do the baldness justice), they figure I'm sick.

So by the time we crossed the street and went into the grocery store, I put the bandana back on. Which was too bad because it was nice having the drizzle wet my itchy head, but I just couldn't be out in public looking like that.

I'm reading an excellent book right now called The Summer of Her Baldness by Catherine Lord. So if you want to know about what kind of cancer memoir I'm digging, that's the one. Within the first few pages, her story totally resonated with mine, and let's face it, there are so many cancer narratives out there, that you kinda have to pick your poison. And cancer is a self-indulgent thing; it has to be. You can't attack cancer without focusing wholly on yourself, more than ever. But Lord writes beautifully, and once I finish reading it, I'll write a complete review.

Several people suggested I watch Crazy Sexy Cancer, and in fact, before the suggestion was made, I happened to see a blurb of it on my Google page, so I recorded it. Dude, my dad, and I watched the first half of it last night because that was all I could manage to watch in one sitting. Unfortunately, the woman in it is really freaking obnoxious. She's 31 years old, my age, and she's an actress and photographer living in New York, which by default, makes her annoying--she has to be annoying for a living. Annoying, in a dramatic way. Like, I think we figured this out in the first two minutes of the film.

Her name's Kris Carr, and she was diagnosed with Stage IV (incurable) cancer of the liver and lungs. Instead of jumping into any traditional treatment for her cancer (chemo or radiation), she visits all these alternative medicine type people that come off as completely kooky. And all the while, she is loud--and have I mentioned how annoying she is? It could have also been her choice in the style of documentary, which reminded me of all the documentaries I had to watch in college and grad school that were trying to be hip MTV-esque type things. But yeah, so she tries really hard to be hip and funny and witty and "real" and all that, and I'm just sitting there like, "OMG, please stop!" Like when she's in her kitchen with a woman who's trying to teach her about macrobiotic eating, and she's totally mocking the woman, and the woman's trying to be serious but knows that she's not being taken seriously--I mean, yeah, the woman was kinda odd, but that's who she is, and why is Carr bringing her in to make fun of her? But the thing is, then she follows the woman's food schedule and all that religiously. So is she making fun of herself too? Maybe, but heck, that doesn't seem to surface as much.

The best parts of the film (from what I watched so far) are when she turns the camera off herself and focuses on other women who have cancer. I actually shed a tear when I watched the part about the one woman who had to leave her family, including her little baby boy, to go stay in a hospital to receive a hardcore treatment for a month.

But then Carr turns the camera back on herself. I mentioned before that cancer is a self-indulgent thing; Carr takes that idea all the way to the top....the whole way.

But I'm not going to rag on her anymore until I finish watching the film. Maybe there are some redemptive qualities at the end that make the first half make more sense. I hope.

Anyway, I could see why people--including myself--would think I would like this film. I'm kinda doing here in the blog what Carr does in her film with the "look at me! look at me!" quality. I mean, really, that's what most blogs are about anyway. But I think for me, that stuff has to be really freakin' good and beyond that "look at me!" quality on film, much more so than the kind of crap that I write here. Film assaults more senses and buttons in a much more immediate way; can read and think about and process more slowly. But hey, that's just me.


Meghan said...

Hey Brandy, you've probably heard of this one already but in case you haven't:

I don't know if henna is okay for the scalp though? said...

yeah, i've heard conflicting things about henna on the scalp, or henna for cancer patients. the idea was actually given to me by the chemo nurse. but i have an oncologist appt. tomorrow, so i'll ask.

i emailed henna vancouver, btw, and they never responded! hm...

Meghan said...

given the not-so-high-tech quality of their website, I'm not surprised email wasn't returned. maybe phone would be more successful? they might have had similar questions about scalps and cancer patients, too, so it might be worth a try. i remember doing a henna tattoo myself once, though it was a cheap kit and i must have done it wrong because it faded in like a week. it would look really cool if you get it!

ShannonQK said...

Girl, you ARE rockin' the bald head, although I hear you that it's not exactly your choice. Whatever you're looking like, you have a huge, amazing, beautiful soul...and THAT shows!