I have been thinking about this for a long time, and I have definitely decided: there is nothing funny about my mom's cancer.

My hesitation at this conclusion might stem from it's being my initial reaction. More than a month ago, my dad called me from my brother's house in Media and told me the results of all mom's tests from Riddle Memorial. "This is not funny," I told my father. I said it again to my husband, and I liked the sound of it so much that I sang it out again and again to the tune of low growling tears.

My husband got on the phone with my mom the next day and told her, "It is just not funny." He confuses "funny" with "fun", however, so he meant to be sympathetic to mom's pain and confusion.

Now, my cancer was funny. I mean in the sense of "causing laughter." Hear me out. I was a serious, more-veggie-than-thou vegetarian, one who had nine reasons to eat organic broccoli and who knew the secret code names for milk products in processed foods; I withstood the derision of my husband, who has himself whacked chickens and sold meat for the largest chicken processor in Costa Rica. Once I grabbed a pan in which he had fried up a steak and performed a cleansing ritual with salt, lemon and fire. And I was the one who got colon cancer at age 32.

Hindsight tells me that the cleansing ritual tempted the Gods to make this little joke.

Then I woke up after surgery with a colostomy. It was just yesterday that my husband told me he missed the bag on cold nights because it was so warm and cushiony. No, he didn't want me to fix him a hot water bottle because those go all cold. A colostomy bag has a built-in reheating mechanism. Infinitely superior, to his way of thinking.

My dad's two bouts with colon cancer are funny. He agrees with me; no, I agree with him since he started the joking. He makes jokes about his writing being so much better since he's mastered the use of the semi-colon (ba DUMP bump), and how this just proves that lawyers are full of it (ba DUMP bump). Then of course the timing of his diagnoses is just hysterical. The first time his diagnosis came ten, count 'em, ten days after Ronald Reagan had his surgery. The second time it came about three weeks after my surgery. That's my dad, trendy and loving it.

The really ironic bit is that I lost about as much colon as dad has left. Aside from being my response when dad tells me not to eat asparagus, it is surely fodder for some hearty guffawing in The Common Room of the Gods. "That pair need something to really bring them close," says, oh, I dunno, Kokopeli, "why not some ironic colon resectioning? C'mon, it'll be a real hoot." And Jesus and Ganesh shake their heads and say, "That's not funny," and Minerva just rolls her eyes and...

You get the idea.

Mom's going to lose one kidney on Thursday. She's afraid of surgery, and her trying to be brave makes me weep like a cellar wall when I'm alone. She's had this cancer creeping slowly through her kidney for seven years. That's seven years of slow slower slowest and sleeping twelve fourteen sixteen hours a day, dreading the visits of her precious granddaughters because it will take too much energy to clean before and after and play and sing during; barely summoning the enthusiasm to enjoy her own daughter's wedding, which she'd been wanting to plan since her own wedding was planned right out from under her; now she sits, hating her exhaustion and anemia and angry at the years she has lost to sleep, depression and more sleep.

And we're all just happy it's only one kidney.

There is nothing funny about my mom's cancer. It's not funny. It's not funny...

"Refuse is our inspiration
terrorism our trade"

The day began. The bright 10 A.M. sunshine pouring in through the living room windows. My sister, running around, gibbering her 4-year-old bits of knowledge. The aura of anticipation hanging in the air like a dead fog.

"KMFDM," I said to myself.

It was kindof weird, really. I didn't realize what I was going to see. It had not settled into my mind that I was going to attend a concert with a band I was familiar with, with music I knew the words to, and people I recognized playing said music.

After a quick game of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War with my younger brother and a hot shower, I decided it was time for me to suit up. I reached into my closet and withdrew a pair of black jeans and a plain, black shirt. Slipping on my Doc Martens felt almost like a donning of armor. I knew where I was going, then. But that was the extent of it. "I am going to a concert."

Yes, Anthony, you are going to a concert. You just wait.

"Sabotage and piracy
chaos our mental state"

My dearest comrade and brother-at-arms Ryan, in his magnificent chariot, came driving up my gravel driveway at approximately six minutes after 3:00 P.M. I ran and obtained my camera from my room, and we set off to his house, to get directions and attend to a few last things before setting on our journey.

"I've never heard of these people, dude. KFDMF? MDKKF?"

Ryan, your grasp of acronyms makes me cringe.

"KMFDM" I said with a slow and maurading voice. "It's an acronym. Something in German."

Before we continue, I guess it should be known that my friend Ryan does not enjoy some of the music I listen to. And I was worried that KMFDM would be among that sort of music, to him. So it was with a stomach full of bumblebees, I tried to spell it out for him.

"It's called techno-industrial," I started. "It's like techno, but a bit... more abrasive."

"In the age of super boredom
hype and mediocrity"

Finally, we were on the road. Some gas station rations and some introspective talk kept us occupied on our journey through the ugliest two hours worth of landscape I've ever seen. Flat. Flat for miles. So amazingly flat and bland. It got better as he approached our destination, however. Lawrence is an aesthetically pleasing place. The Granada (the actual theatre where the concert was to take place) was not hard to find.

It was 6:40 P.M. when we arrived in Lawrence. Still a good hour and a half until tickets went on sale. So we decided to get something to eat. I don't know about you, but me, I'm a bundle of flayed nerves. That bumblebee feeling in my stomach was now rioting through my body. Nervous laughing, shaky hands, chattering teeth, that sort of thing. Concerts do that to me. I could not down a bit of food.

At 7:35 or so, we decided to go and get in line, only to find that the length of which had increased tenfold. Casual talk with others in the queue followed. It was a strange thing, to see the "casual-to-goth ratio" had been inverted. I'll be damned if goth clothing is among the most impractical creations of humankind. Doesn't mean it looked bad, though.

The line started moving at 8:10. We got our tickets, and made our way inside. The Granada is akin to an old sort of theatre, made sometime back in the 30's or 40's, maybe. (I'm no architectural buff. I could be wrong.) All the pretty creatures of the night wandered about, some clustering at the merch booth, a few standing in the "pit" area, others just doin' their own thing. Ryan is obviously terrified. "Is there something you forgot to tell me about this band, Anthony?" A banner bearing the cover art to their newest CD "Hau Ruck" met our eyes.

"Celebrate relentlesness
menace to society"

The first act, God Project, was a local band. They were kindof a synth-rock group, and were generally pleasing to the ear. The second band to play was something called Acumen Nation. Y'see, when I hear the word "nation" in a band name, I immediately think of VNV Nation. Acumen Nation is NOT VNV Nation. A wall of grinding, sandpaper-ish guitars stripped and flayed away at my brain, while me and Ryan were moshing amongst our fellow concertgoers to the sounds of Squarepusher-esque beats. A good band, yes, but not anything I was totally rabid about.

A brief intermission gave us both time to recover from our battle wounds. Ryan expressed that he was having a "good time" and the whole experience was "totally rad" so far. Relieving news. But not quite as exciting when we saw the Acumen Nation banner be disassembled and carried off.

"You tired, Ryan?" I asked, panting like a dog.

"Kindof," he said with a big smile.

"Boy, you ain't tired. Not yet," I replied, wiping the sweat from my brow.

"This is counterculture
from the underground"

At this point, every occupant in the room (save for the soundboard operator and maybe the bartenders) flocked to the front. We cheered anxiously as the roadies hooked up the guitars and fine-tuned the drums. Sascha Konietzko's trademark stand, synth, and megaphone stood stoutly but proudly. We were in for some righteous shit.

One by one, they marched onstage from the left. Steve White, Sascha Konietzko, Lucia Cifarelli, Jules Hodgson, and Andy Selway. It was at this point we knew that we were about to be destroyed in every sense of the word, and even some senses that are essentially impossible!

The band launched the set off with the song "Hau Ruck." Me and Ryan found ourselves pumping our fists in the air,chanting "HAU RUCK! RUCK ZUCK!" along with the two hundered or so other attendants. The energy was simply amazing. Lucia moved like a snake, gyrating and twisting in ways that populate every 13 year old boy's wet dreams. Sascha, with his trademark aviator shades and perfect mohawk stalked the stage, ranting at us in his native tongue. Another mosh pit ensued, with a 3:1 ratio of sober people to piss drunk people. Being 17 and generally non-drinkers, the both of us were a part of the former group.

"Eternal revolution
this is our sound"

Round after round, they pummeled us with songs from their new album (which I was mostly unfamiliar with), turning our brains into paste with the thumping bass, razor-sharp clicks, and screeching guitars. Then, it was Lucia's time to shine. "Last Things" was the next song to follow, and Lucia pranced about the stage like some raunchy antelope, melting us with her burning gaze. Her voice was slightly off, however (which was later revealed to be a chest infection.) After her stint on the mic, the band came back again, playing "Mini Mini Mini," which drove the crowd into a frenzy. By this point, my unimpressive frame is stil reeling from the massive pummelings I've been dealt (all in good will, I assure you!) We see the band set down their instruments, and leave the stage. "What?! They barely played anything!" I thought.

Then, the crowd began chanting. "KMFDM SUCKS! KMFDM SUCKS! KMFDM SUCKS!" over and over and over. I joined in, lending my voice to the summoning ritual.

A minute passed. The band came out again, with huge smiles on their faces. They picked up their instruments, and the recognizeable intro of Megalomaniac began. The thundering bass possessed my legs, and I found myself dancing, giving myself completely to the music. By the end of the song, I could feel my stomach uclers acting up again, the familiar burning, tearing pain in my stomach. "Screw this." I said aloud. I will dance, pain or no pain! And oh, how I danced. I danced and convulsed and threw myself around until I could not stand for a second more.

The song came to a close. Ryan was at this point at the front of the stage, directly in front of Lucia. The boy does me proud.

"WWIII" started. "Baby Jesus Christ." By this point, I am in a lot of pain. But I couldn't just stand there like a shmuck, when one of my favorite bands was playing RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! So I sacrificed my wellbeing and waded into the fray once more.

better than the best"

The last song was a blur. I can only remember the violent strobe lights. The commanding presence of Mr. Konietzko shouting through a megaphone into his microphone. The blistering drums. Tattoos. Tinnitus. A static blur. Of screaming. Thrashing. Headbanging.

They left the stage, and a wimpy voice came through the intercom. "The band will be waiting at the merch stand to sign autographs and converse with fans!" Or some such... thing. My mind was kindof liquified at that time, so I can't really remember the exact words... or if my legs were still attatched to my body. We looked at the time on my cellphone. 1:00 A.M. "We are going to meet someone from that band," Ryan stated. "We aren't leaving until then."

And lo and behold, dearest Lucia Cifarelli! A most gorgeous creature, with her (now) crackly voice and a cardboard sign duct-taped onto her chest. Ryan touches her hand while she's onstage and now he thinks he's in love lol!

A few pictures of us and Ms. Cifarelli, and we exited.

We travelled to his car, which was a block away down the street. We lazily climbed in, and sat back in our seats.



"If they come to Kansas again, we are going."

Oh Ryan. I knew you'd be a believer, soon enough.

and harder than the rest!"

As I went to get lunch at the Arby's across the street today, I happened to glance out the window and did a double-take. The Caribou Coffee next door, the one I often get morning white chocolate mochas and afternoon Caramel Coolers at, had a hole in it. A car-shaped hole. Seems someone last night mistook drive for reverse and hit the gas, and ended up partially indoors.

I couldn't help wondering if the accident was due to too much coffee.

Some habitual daylog readers may have previously read about my attempts to crawl out of a hole of debt. The crawl continues, slowly but steadily. New laws increasing minimum payments on credit cards are going to hurt us badly; while these laws are beneficial to society in theory, as they make sure people pay down principal on revolving credit much faster, they screw up my debt plan in which we pay down the highest-interest things first and then move on to balances with lower rates. Now we have to pay more toward all of the balances, which ends up being less efficient.

If you could plot our life on an oscilloscope, it would look more or less like a series of pulses that decay exponentially. Every two weeks I get paid, and in the next three days a good 75 percent of that pay goes toward purchases we desperately needed over the last week, as well as a bit of overindulgence in Dairy Queen and Nancy's pizza (best in Chicago). The subsequent week and a half consists of getting by with whatever is left, or often not, as another email from the bank signifies an overdraft transfer of $50 from credit because we didn't track our expenses well enough.

It's amazing how easily one's principles can fly out the window in these situations. I pride myself on being generous, treating friends to dinner or dessert or a party or a movie or whatever. Now I have to ask for money up front. Parties are potlucks. I stopped downloading copyrighted music over the Internet back in college, not because it is illegal, but because I want to support the artists I like. Now I'm back grabbing music off P2P networks because I simply can't afford $10 to $15 per CD.

I was Catholic once, but gave that up when I married my wife. I was not about to make her sign a dispensation form promising any kids would be raised Catholic, just so they would let us marry in a Lutheran church. I had been disillusioned with Catholicism for quite a while, so it wasn't exactly a big sacrifice.

My belief in a god these days hovers somewhere around agnosticism and deism, these days. I believe that either (a) there is no God, (b) there is a God but s/he doesn't give a damned about us here on Earth, or (c) there is a God but s/he is either unable or unwilling to help us out. "God helps those who help themselves" is just a polite way of saying "you'd better work it all out yourself 'cause God ain't gonna do shit". I used to believe in karma to some extent, but I've scrapped that too. "What goes around comes around" is utter bullshit; if it were true, we wouldn't have Halliburton and George W. Bush and Phil Hartman and Hurricane Katrina, all the good things happening to bad people and vice-versa. The universe owes you jack. The universe may deal you garbage hands for fifty years, and on the fifty-first it'll still deal you garbage, because you're not "due" for a winning hand at all. It doesn't work that way. After all, if you flip a coin and it lands tails-up a hundred times in a row, the chances of it landing tails-up the 101st time is still 50/50.

I was a goddamned child prodigy growing up. That's what everybody said, anyway. I was reading newspapers at five, playing piano at seven, doing algebra at eight. Somewhere along the line I started to believe it. I could do no wrong. I skipped homework. Homework was for people who weren't geniuses. Studying was for losers. I was better than all of them. I was a social outcast because I made myself one, hating others preemptively. They were all just jealous! You should never fight back, just ignore them! Bad advice from folks who meant well.

I don't think I was ever a genius. My learning curve was just a bit more curved than others, fast in the beginning, slowing down over time. The whiz man doesn't fit like the whiz kid did. Whatever idealism and creativity I once had died with my ego.

Coming to grips with the fact that I, too, am just another human, has been a slow process over years and years. I wish it could've been learned at less of a price, quite literally. I dug the hole we're in now with false hope: "Ah, it's fine to throw this stuff on credit, I'm sure I'll get a new job any day now." "We don't have to put the house on the market yet, I'm sure this next interview will pan out!" All of this happened over three years ago, and we're still paying for it now! Amortized retribution.

Entropy seems to be some sort of beast that stalks me. Everything gets dirtier, more cluttered, more disorganized. Everything breaks down, and I have neither the time nor the money to battle the foe. The cat box needs cleaning. Carpet is stained, tile is cracked, walls are gouged. The furnace needs replacing and the air conditioner barely works any more. The back deck is rotting, the garage door opener is broken, and the driveway is pitted, grass growing up through its cracks. House paint is peeling and screens have holes in them. Neighbors move out and I wonder if they're just trying to get away from me. I know it's just paranoia, probably because I missed my daily antidepressant for a little while (we couldn't afford it) but that knowledge doesn't help.

And let's take a step back, to a wider view. Gas prices are rising, electricity is going up. Mother Nature delivers us droughts or floods and has seemed to forget how to work the middle. Bird flu is going to kill us all Any Day Now, or so the evening news says. That is, if the terrorists don't get us first. Or the weather, the way things have been going.

Eventually my neurotransmitter levels will smooth out again, and I'll go back to that sweet flatness of drifting between being vaguely unsettled and vaguely content. Panic is replaced by apathy. I guess that's an improvement. I can go back to drifting through life, instead of bobbing up and down. I'm too snippy, cynical, and volatile this way, anyway.

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