13 April 2008

What I Hate About Chemotherapy -- And Love About Get Wellephant Cards!

Does everybody remember the first joke they ever learned? I do! I even remember my father teaching it to me on the banks of the Verde River, so we were living in Cottonwood at the time. I must have been five or six years old. It went like this:

How do you shoot a purple elephant?
With a purple elephant gun.
Then how do you shoot a white elephant?
With a white elephant gun?
No! You squeeze its trunk until it turns purple and shoot it with a purple elephant gun!

Okay, you can groan, but my Cub Scouts loved it! I am now armed with a couple dozen more elephant jokes, thanks to the post I put up on Six LDS Writers and Frog last Friday. The post follows, and the elephant jokes follow the post.

Five Things I Hate About Chemo

When I began chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, I wanted to keep it private. Two weeks later, not only is it the worst-kept secret since Neiman Marcus’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I feel like a fraud. I recently got a letter from a friend outlining how brave and candid and long-suffering I supposedly am. Oh, gosh. Is that a load of . . . um . . . that all-natural material everybody’s spreading on their gardens this time of year, or what? Not only would I never cut it on Moment of Truth, but I can gripe and whine with the best of them!

I’ll prove it. In a drastic departure from “to review or not to review” – and just for the record – here are the top five things I hate about chemo:
Mouth sores and chapped lips. I go through two tubes of Chapstick and one bottle of mouthwash a week with no noticeable improvement. It is the first time in my life I’ve been grateful for thin lips and a small mouth. Julia Roberts and/or Joan Rivers would not survive this.
Trashed taste buds. Everything tastes terrible. Some people say it’s metallic, but I think it’s more . . . I don’t know what it is . . . but it changes eating as I know it. Bland is barely tolerable. Sweet is nasty. Salty is at least close to normal. Anybody remember the salt-craving creature from Star Trek? I feel such a strong kinship these days that I downloaded her picture and put it on the mantle with the rest of the family photos.
The singular opportunity to observe results of my body’s semi-digestive process up close and personal. Repeatedly.
Soliloquies. “To wig or not to wig. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (as in the looks one is bound to get when bald) or to take arms against a sea of troubles (as in poaching somebody else’s hair) and by opposing end them?” Of all the thousand natural shocks that chemo-flesh is heir to, hair-loss might be the worst. I’ve spent hours looking at wigs. Long hair. Short hair. Brown hair. Red hair. Goth hair. Mohair. Even a curly blonde bubble-do Barbie wore in 1955. Suffice it to say that despite being sorely tempted by a purple shag, I decided to hope for the best instead of prepare for the worst. I will think positively . . . and avoid hairbrushes. If I go bald anyway, Plan B is already in the closet: the knee-length curls Hilary wore at the last Mystery Dinner. Bonus: Since I'm so short, all I will need to reenact Rapunzel is a stepladder and a witch.
Pity Parties. While I do allow that an occasional intimate tea with self-pity is gratifying, I despair of larger soirees held in my honor. Almost everybody I know feels so dang sorry for me they can’t stand it. Well, I can’t stand it either.
Most of my phone conversations now go like this: Hello? Did I get you up? No. Oh, uh, good. So, er, how are you? I’m fine. How are you really? I’m really fine. No, you’re not. You puke toenails. Well, sure. I meant other than that. I knew I shouldn’t have bothered you! Click.

It’s not much different in cyberspace. I used to get silly stories and incredible pictures and tales of woe and requests to read manuscripts. This morning, every single e-mailer wanted to sell me something or pray for me. Obviously, the word has spread. While I am practically certain that I am the same person I was before I started feeding on salt and kneeling in the presence of toilets, I may be the only one who believe it.

Nobody take this next part wrong, even if I phrase it badly, okay? I deeply appreciate prayer in my behalf. Prayer is, as Elder Maxwell taught, the most efficacious thing one person can do for another. Thus I am richly blessed by the effort and faith of my family and friends. Pity, on the other hand, leads people to think that all they have to offer is prayer . . . and sympathy. That is not the case.

Please don't feel sorry for me. I don’t feel sorry for myself – at least not because of that stupid “Things I Hate about Chemo” list. Everything on it pales in comparison to my many blessings. They are too numerous to list, but I have a great doctor, adequate insurance, lovely bathrooms, and the best family and dearest friends in the world. Yes, I also have cancer, but I have a kind that is almost never caught in stage one – and yet it was! This means that if I endure a little discomfort today, I have a 95% chance of living enough tomorrows to . . . I don’t know . . . see Rob grow up? Watch the Cubs win a World Series? Something miraculous, for sure!

I do recognize that ignoring cancer is like overlooking an elephant in the room. But in my case, it is a very large room and a relatively small elephant. In fact, I think it may be much like the one on my bookshelf – about eight inches high and six inches wide. Since it’s made of solid brass, it is a little heavy to carry around all the time, but one does what one must. Here’s the thing I wish more people understood: If I hold this thing up to my nose it is all I can see. Its width and breadth obscure the room and make everything seem as dark and cold as it is itself. Anyone would be afraid to be alone with a beast of that magnitude. But when I manage to push it out to arm’s length, the perspective changes. It’s the same elephant, and we’re still together in the same room, but now there is light, and around its greatly-diminished dimensions I can clearly see all the places I have yet to go.

You’d think, knowing this, I could keep that elephant where it belongs. But the thing I really hate about chemo is the lack of strength I sometimes have to keep the elephant at arm’s length. Then, more than I need barf bags and pretzels and sympathetic shoulders, I need friends who still see me behind the elephant. Living and laughing and growing and serving despite cancer and chemo is the only way to keep the pachyderm in perspective.

So, quick, somebody tell me an elephant joke!

I cannot say how grateful I am that so many people did! I got some other funny stuff too, as well as helpful advice and remarks that made me cry in gratitude, but you’ll have to look those up for yourself.) This post is all about elephant jokes.

Sperrynluv said...
Q: What did the mother elephant tell her son who was late for his botany fieldtrip?
A: Pack up your trunk and leaf!
Stephanie Black said...
Q. How do you fit four elephants into a Volkswagen?
A. Two in the front and two in the back.
Mean Aunt said...
How do you stop a charging elephant?
Take away his credit card.
Why do elephants paint their toenails red?
To hide in the cherry trees.
Pat said...
Who is the most famous male singing elephant?
Harry Elephante.
How can you tell when an elephant has been in your refrigerator?
Look for elephant tracks in the butter.
What cheers you up when you are sick?
A Get Wellephant card.
Cheri Crane said...
How do you get three elephants in a taxi?
One in the front next to the driver, and two in the back.
How do you know there is an elephant in your house?
There's a taxi outside with two impatient elephants.
Marta Smith said...
Person with ADD: Why did the elephant cross the road?
Normal Person: I don't know. Why?
ADD: (Blink, blink) I'm sorry, what was the question?
Normal: You were telling me a joke.
ADD: A joke? Okay. Knock, knock.
Normal: (Sigh) Who's there?
ADD: Hey, look! An elephant!
David Woolley said...
Q: What did Kerry say when a man dressed in an elephant costume knocked on her door?
A: Sorry, Rob. No interviews.
Q: What did Kerry say when she dropped off her elephant in the elephant exhibition pen at the Phoenix Zoo and found Jeff Savage blowing water out his nose?
A: Call Letterman.
Doug Johnston said...
How do you stop an elephant from charging?
Take away her credit card.
Jennifer Leffler said...
How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
Liz Adair said...
Who is the most famous female singing elephant?
Elephants Gerald
How do you get down off an elephant?
You don't. You get down off a goose.
How can you tell there's an elephant under your bed?
Because your nose is squished against the ceiling.
Kim Thompson said...
Why don't elephants ride bikes?
They don't have a thumb to ring the bell.
Marlene Austin said...
What time is it when ten elephants are chasing you?
Ten after one.
Sariah Wilson said...
Q: What do elephants have that nothing else has?
A: Baby elephants.
Karlene said...
What is gray and comes in a powder?
Instant elephant.

I probably have enough elephant jokes to entertain my Cubs for months to come, but I'm always open for a few more . . .

08 April 2008

“Magic is not just spells. The magic you see on the outside—making pots and pans fly or brewing potions to make boys swoon before you—is but a tiny fraction of the power of true magic. The real power of magic lies within you. Who you are, what you do, and most importantly of all, what you may become.” ~Master Therapass, mentor extraordinaire from Farworld, Book 1: Water.

Good news! Farworld, the much-anticipated fantasy series by J. Scott Savage, is as full of adventure, magic, and charm as it is enduring wisdom. Better news! This is a book the whole family can enjoy together -- and those are about as rare these days as magical flying pots. Ready for the best news? You don’t have to wait until fall to get your hands on a copy! Very soon, Scott will award more than a hundred lucky people an ARC (advance reader copy) on blogs across the country – including right here!

Since Scott has offered to answer questions while on his virtual pre-tour, that will be our contest. E-mail me any (and all) questions you’d like to ask a soon-to-be New York Times bestselling author. Each question qualifies you for one entry in the drawing for Book 1 of Farworld. (In other words, if you send ten questions, you have ten chances to win!) The interview and drawing date are yet to be announced, but the contest starts here and now. (Or is that Now and Here?)

In the meantime, check out FIND YOUR MAGIC. I don’t need the wisdom of Master Therapass, or even a crystal ball, to predict that you’ll find the Farworld world as magical as I do!

01 April 2008

Yes, Fun!

As everyone who knows me (and most of the people who read my blogs) know, book promotion makes me hyperventilate. I don't know why. Every time I finish breathing into the paper bag and enter the bookstore, I have a wonderful time!
This last flurry of activity was no exception.
This is me in beautiful, downtown St. George. Or not. One woman informed me quite pointedly that the St. George Seagull Book in which I sat is actually in Washington, Utah. Wherever it is, the store is beautiful and its staff is super-organized and all-around wonderful. My daughter made a frame for this picture on which she painted "Dreams do come true." Along with my publisher, who I adore, it's the people who sell my books -- and especially the people who buy them! -- who make those dreams come true. I couldn't possibly be more grateful to you all!

You probably can't see it, but just behind This Just In is a card with a little superhero figure on it. A dear, dear friend brought it in and it hasn't been out of my sight since. Doni and a couple of fantabulous women who came in with all my books really made the day for me!

My next stop was in Orem -- and I'm pretty sure it was Orem. When I walked in, Julie, the cute blonde in the middle of this picture, was already there. She'd driven four hours from Idaho, presumably to make Betsy Brannon Green and I feel better about ourselves than mere authors really have a right to! As if meeting Julie at last and spending time with Betsy wasn't enough, I also met Pat, another close e-pal. (I'd have met her husband if she'd told me he was in the car.) It was beyond doubt as much joy as you can pack into one hour . . . without being on the beach.

Redwood Seagull is one of my favorite places on the planet because it's the store that fills the orders for all us poor, LDS-bookstore-sansless schmoes in the "mission field." Besides being all-around terrific the whole time, these three ladies got together as I left and recited: Romper, Stomper, Bomper, BOO! Tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic Mirror, tell me today, did Kerry Blair have fun today?
Oh my gosh. Never more fun, let me tell you! Thanks so much, ladies! That experience went down in my gratitude journal -- twice! You're the best!

This is me at the Family Center Seagull with author Jeri Gilchrist (left) and two more dear friends, Kyle and Jaq. Jeri isn't doing the signing thing right now, but look for her before Christmas! Her newest novel, Shadow of the Crown, will be out September 1. I got a sneak peak and, people, it's amazing! Run, do not walk, to the nearest bookstore come September 2. I've already pre-ordered.

I have to skip a couple of signings now because my "official photographer" checked into the hotel to get ready for the Whitneys, but I loved every minute I spent at West Jordan (where Liz, et al, brought me flowers --which are still gorgeous) and South Towne (where I finally met Rob Ficur) as well! More great people at really terrific stores!

So, this is me last weekend with Peggy, manager extraordinaire of the Seagull Book in Mesa, Arizona. I have a lot of Dorothy in me, you know. No matter where I go or who I meet along the way, there's really no place like home. Mesa is home and it was such a joy to see all the wonderful people there. (I can't name them all this time because I'd miss somebody for sure. But I so appreciated all the support and hugs and lovely gifts. Personal thank you cards to follow, guys, I swear!) I also met Traci Hunter Abramson which was way fun, albeit expensive. My daughter and I are her biggest fans!
This Saturday is my last public appearance until May. I'll be at the Deseret Book in Glendale, Arizona from 5 - 7 p.m. for Ladies Night. I'd love to see/meet anybody and everybody who's in the neighborhood!