Don't Worry About Me.

Summer's here and the time is right for dancing in the streets.  I finished 12 weeks of Taxol, and I get a full month off from treatment.  This really is like being on parole. I do have to go back to Herceptin IV every three weeks for a YEAR.  Just when I thought I could start over and start a new life in Florida, I started a new life alright.  I had to put my life on pause to save my life.  Now my treatment is on pause!  What next?  I've been so good!  16 weeks without booze.  What kind of life is that?  At least in the joint you can make hooch out of hairspray and shoe polish.  

Good news is I don't have to do that - I just have to run for it.  Literally.  There's a Cider Run in an apple orchard.  It starts downhill which I can handle.  Then you run up a hill - no problem.  THEN the apples are growing on a hill and you have to run up and down the rows of apple trees.  Why am I doing this?  Oh yeah, because there is BOOZE at the end of it!  So I wind up walking up the hill and running down each one, and there are at least 10 rows.  There's a place you can cut through to the finish line, but I'm not going to cheat.  I'd just be cheating myself.  I need to earn that delicious tangy cider at the end.  The sweet taste of success!

One person who has been through every single crappy day, sad days, achy days, tired days, but mostly good days is Kevin.  I made the very unfunny joke - I finally found something Kevin couldn't fix.  That's really what makes this so hard on him - he can't fix it.  But he can shave my head, or roll magic oil on my feet or laugh at me when I have no idea how to deal with Cannabis oil, or drop me at chemo or even come sometimes and get a free sandwich.  But it's been all about me.  We have to get back to us, and he needs a break at much as I do.

We make a plan to go camping.  My favorite place to camp in the whole wide world is Hither Hills State Park in Montauk New York.  Kevin bought his dream truck - a 1970 Kaiser M35A2 AKA Deuce and a Half AKA the Hulk.  It's an Army troop transport vehicle.  Kevin has outfitted it for camping - there's a platform bed in the back, top canvass, storage underneath the bed.  All we need is a cooler, camp stove, beach chairs and we're ready to go.  This rugged vehicle tops out at 45 MPH downhill, so we're not taking 8 hours to drive to Montauk. We're taking the Ferry from Bridgeport to the middle of Long Island, where the speed limit all the way out there is less than 45 MPH so we're good!

The one thing I missed in Colorado was the beach.  Good news we have been camping in Montauk before, but we tent camped, which has its issues in the wind and rain.  No problem with the Deuce.  We can even cook inside if it's raining.  We feel no wind.  It's May so it's summer, right?  WRONG.  The first night, we nearly freeze to death.  We have a light blanket, sheets, and those foil emergency blankets.  Kevin even has a vinyl from a billboard we try to use as insulation.  We wear all our clothes to bed.  After one night of this, my crafty magpie brain kicks in.  Right next to the campground is a hotel.  I march up the hill and find a maid in a room.  "Excuse me, do you have an extra blanket?"  She asks me what room I'm in and I look across the way and give her the number and say, "I'll be over here, I have to make a call."  After a few minutes, she hands me a blanket, and I go back down to the campground, quite pleased with myself.  Kevin is not so pleased.  "I can't believe you stole a blanket from a hotel!", he fumed. I gave him my best retort:  "It's not stealing if they give to to you!"

Speaking of Colorado, we planned to spend Mother's Day in Fort Collins with Kevin's Family.  Kevin's twin brother's wife was diagnosed with breast cancer within 2 days of mine.  My mom was going to have me with her for the year.  Kevin's mom, who knows, between the eventual move to Florida and whatever i was going through.  We were joined by two of my friends who are moms - Rita and Liv, who brought her two small children.  With Kevin's brother Steve, Katie and their two kids, it was quite the party.  His mom was of course thrilled to have us out.  

I was happy to see my Colorado friends again having got my beach fix.  Kevin was relieved to see his family and spend time with his friends.  When my month break is over, I have to go back to chemo, and then I start radiation in July, which is every weekday for a month.  Before that happens, I will drive with Kevin down to Florida and he'll probably stay and work on the house.  He wants to get everything to a point where I can visit between sessions. 

Back in the New york Groove, I had the honor if being asked to perform at the annual Joey Ramone Birthday Bash, which is an annual cancer benefit run by Joey's brother, Mickey Leigh, for the Joey Ramone Lymphoma Foundation.  It is always a fun, star-studded rock and roll affair and is being held at the Bowery Electric.  Mickey and I go back and forth a bit on the songs, and we finally choose, "I Want You Around", which is not only a personal favorite of mine, but also the song Joey sings to my spirit animal Riff Randall in the film "Rock 'N Roll High School."  I buy lots of tickets because it sells out every year, I want my friends to go and it's for a good cause.  I'm nervous because I have not performed in a long time, and certainly not singing without a guitar and my own band.  I certainly do not want to disappoint the fans!  This show is for them, so I want to do it right!

 I can certainly get behind the cause -  Cancer took Joey, Johnny, Arturo, and Tommy. I've got the song, now I need the outfit.  My friend April gave me a ton of very colorful wigs.  I want to go light and upbeat.  I chose the lavender wig because it's super long and has a rock and roll feel.  The dress I'm wearing is purple and orange and green.  It's also super long - longer than I have ever had in my life and goes down to my waist.  I'll have to see if I can flip it around Cher-style.  I have to plan out my stage moves and my wig moves.  What if it falls off?   I don't want to upstage the cause with my own cancerness.  Not sure if this will work.  The hair is so long, it does pull down and shifts the cap on my head, so I have to get the elastic extra tight.

Kevin comes with me to the club for moral support.  
Fellow skinhead CJ Ramone
I sent tickets to a few friends as well, having a few extra.  One friend I'm super excited to see is Brenna, who came with my band The Kowalskis to South by Southwest over 20 years ago in 1997.  She taught me how to hula hoop, and though I will 
never be the hula ninja she is, I worked at it pretty hard and shared her lessons with many of my friends.  Hula hooping is a highly-underrated life skill.  I was so happy when I accidentally reconnected with Brenna in a taco shop in Brooklyn.  I'm nervous and excited about the show and need all the support I can get!


I'm on deck for my song and get to see so many great performers:  Miriam Linna & Peter Zaremba of The Fleshtones, CJ Ramone, Richie Ramone, Tish & Snookie of Manic Panic/S*c Fucks, George Tabb of Furious George, and Evil of The Independents (a favorite band of Joey's).  The big finale is of course the Mc and ringleader of this great show, Michel Leigh, who usually leads a singalong with all the fans.  I follow Miriam& Peter doing "I Remember You", which is a song that means a lot to me personally. I have butterflies in my stomach to follow these two rock 'n roll legends.  I hit the stage, and want to get the crowd going:  "This one's for Joey!  Let's Beat on Cancer!".  I'm full of nervous energy.  The song is mellow enough with even swinging my hair around, the wig does not fall off.  After ending the song with more fists in the air, I said, "Thank you for supporting the cause!" and just grabbed the wig off my head and threw it into the audience.  It just felt right.  Both Mickey and CJ came up to me and gave me a hug and a kiss.  CJ even rubbed by bald head.  

This was an honor but also a scary, thrilling and a small victory for me.  I thanked the band, CJ and most of all Mickey who is so kind and thoughtful for including me this year.  He was genuinely concerned.  What's also funny is he calls me "Boss" after working together at Coney Island High over 20 years ago where he did our fanzine" Coney Island High Times.  Here's another public appearance where I assured everyone that I'm fine or will be fine in the end - I think.  Joey Ramone said it best:  Don't Worry About Me.


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