me: I’m not sick, but I’m not well

The year was 1997, a bootleg copy of Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone? was in my CD player and I was a little too into this track…

Hear the voices in my head,
I swear to god it sounds like they’re snoring.
But if you’re bored then you’re boring,
the agony and the irony, they’re killing me.

I’m not sick but I’m not well,
and I’m so hot ‘cos I’m in Hell.
I’m not sick but I’m not well,
and it’s a sin to live so well.

It didn’t really define that year, but I liked to think it did. A sort of “safe” form of rebellion–not quite pop, not quite punk–that accompanied my moving to DC, and what an odd 14 years since. Not really a milestone, but still a long time. Similar to my upcoming birthday–in 12 days–which I was kinda ok with until the past week or so, which may be normal, or not. Generally my birthday anxiety starts up to 2 months out and continues until well after the date has passed.

This year, however, I was just too tired to be bothered. I don’t know if it’s lingering effects from the radiation therapy, or just that my spirit feels broken from dealing with it all. (Though more honestly, I know that it’s both.) Looking in the mirror and seeing a sort of “permanent burn” on my forehead, my hairline completely retreating from the site.1 My body not reacting to things like it used to, more headaches than usual, my stomach fomenting rebellion after nearly every meal–thankfully not every drink. And in generally, seeing the face in my reflection look back and noticing how tired it looks… and old. Edina would say, “Sweetie, this is premature aging. Therefore I can legitimately have it corrected!” And I have more or less confirmed that the feeling old before my time is from the illness, but there’s not much I can do about it.

Frankly, I was ok with it… until other people started to notice. As a steadfast Doctor Who fan, I was reminded of Harriet Jones’ downfall, just six words, Don’t you think she looks tired? Of course, I’ve been tired for a while, but I just can’t hide it anymore. I still believe some of it is coming from stress and a bit of dissatisfaction with work, but sometimes the job is the job and the situation I’m in, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to start looking for something else just yet. In another few months, we’ll see where that is. Even so, I still went through the “things one can do” to at lease give the appearance of fighting age: changed my hair a bit, colored the beard, bought new clothes–but not Abercrombie & Fitch, seriously, never that.2 And within 2 weeks, felt silly for it. And frankly, they should warn you that if your hair grows at werewolf-like speeds, not to even bother with Just For Men, it gives new meaning to the term “temporary hair color”.

Of course it doesn’t help when a best friend sees the silvery hair in your beard and picks at it, thinking that you’ve got a bit of food in there. You know who you are.

Still, it’s not a bad life, I have a loving spouse, friends who care about me–though I do not see them nearly as often as I’d like, and aside from every cell in my body occasionally wanting to go for a little lie down, I’m in good health. Not as thin as I’d like, but who ever is? I’m even coming to terms with the phrase “age-appropriate clothing.” Slowly phasing out the geeky and ironic t-shirts from my closet and rediscovering my dandy roots, though I still wouldn’t shy away from a Utilikilt if they were having a sale.

Ah well, since I’m rambling anyway,3 here’s a fun fact about me. Today is my fake birthday. Happy Fake Birthday to me! When I was nearing school age, the county’s cut-off date was September 6, but my mother was sick of having me around the house reading everything I could and asking her questions all the time. I also suspect she was ready to get back to work herself, so a photocopy of my birth certificate was made with a tiny dab of Wite-Out over the “3” so it would read September 1, and thus qualify me to get into class and out of her hair. For the longest time, I thought I was a Labor Day baby, and enjoyed the day off that came right around my “birthday”. After enough time had passed and I was in my early teens, the truth was revealed to me, by my brother at a large family gathering at Grandma’s house. Everyone–except me–thought this was hilarious. I thought it was a great way to mess a kid up, but I can laugh at it now… kinda.

So I guess the line from that one-hit wonder is still relevant for me today, I’m not sick but I’m not well and while I don’t think it’s a sin, life is pretty good. I just need to learn to take more naps from time to time. Birthday wishes are always appreciated, fake or not, I promise not to freak out about them… too much. :mrgreen:

1 Pro tip: don’t suggest that someone else shave their head unless you’re willing to do the same.

2 Attention older gay men, Abercrombie & Fitch is like MTV, you are not their target demographic and you just look silly–and even more uncool–attempting to remain so.

3 What do I think this is, LiveJournal or something?

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6 Responses

  1. Kris says:

    I wish my mom had done something like that. Happy Fake Birthday!

  2. mazzie says:

    Happy fake birthday! I promise not to pick ANYthing out of your beard.

    Have you looked into any kind of possible homeopathy or medicinal solutions to the after effects of the treatment? Maybe even acupuncture? I have no idea. I just want you to feel well.

  3. William Mize says:

    Oooh! Called OUT.
    I will have my head shaved for St. Baldricks, in honor of your battle and VICTORY.
    There’s no events left in 2011, but in 2012, my grey hair is GONE for you, irregardless of how many weird bumps I may have and how pissed off Amy is going to be 🙂

    • urb says:

      Ha ha! It isn’t just you. A lot of people have said that to me, “Why don’t you just shave your head?” like, “It’s just that simple!”

      Even before cancer, I’d kinda had it up to here with everyone telling me what–in their eyes–my hair should look like, especially people who wouldn’t dare take the same advice/criticism well.

  4. Lindsay says:

    Happy Fake Birthday! Your mother is brilliant.

  5. Esprix says:

    You, sir, crack me up. 🙂

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