IS THE TARADIDDLE NEVER ENDING?
I am sitting on the couch this early snow filled New England morning, two Saturdays before Christmas and I am wide awake. It is 4:30 am and I have been up since about 3am, you know- that famous witching hour we humans arise at when something is stirring in our souls that demands attention. I always have something stirring in my soul and I often say to Michael C. “You will never be bored hanging out with me.” I also understand that my very active morning energy can also be a bit much so as I tossed and turned listening to my old faithful podcast that usually puts me back to sleep, I realized it would not be doing that job this morning. I instead got up and allowed him some sleeping peace and headed downstairs.
I started a fire to take the chill out of the cold morning in the living room and opened up my laptop. My morning routine is a constant. I am deep into the habit of bringing my trusty and sleek Apple with me wherever I go in case the writing bug insists on a piece which by now seems to be almost daily. I am really not sure if I would be as calm as I am if it hadn’t been for my regular writing this past year. I started this past February thanks to my beautiful partner giving me an extra nudge when he showed me that Medium was a site to give my writings a home, actually more like a billboard.
Ideas about pieces to write pop into my head on all occasions. In the past there were times when I would see something spectacular and wished I had my camera with me (before the days when we all carried a camera 24/7) and missed the photo for lack of camera. Writing fixes this because now instead of a photo, I have a phrase I hear or something I see or an experience I am part of and this is my catalyst for the next essay I write. As I was driving over here last night listening to John Tesh on Lite Rock 105 (This may be surprising to some, but I start listening to Christmas music the first week of November; I know- it’s an odd quirk, but total truth). I can’t remember the last time I actually listened to a commercial radio station, though. It was snowing and I was driving, usually not something that I relish. The radio was easier than fidgeting with my phone,Pandora and the distraction of that whole gig in my car while I am driving especially in the snow, (worse than texting and driving if you ask me).
“Did you know that a recent study showed that cancer can be prevented if you belt out some tunes?” or something to that effect, John Tesh exclaimed. “More on how singing your heart out in a choir may be an actual cancer prevention after the break,” he swooned with his confident and calming know all about life voice. I didn’t know this. “You mean, John Tesh, if I had only joined a choir and sung my heart out a few years back, I would still have my old saggy fifty year old breasts, my ovaries and my fallopian tubes, my premenopausal brain and regular periods?” I am so disappointed I did not know this.
Why is it that these “studies” are always done in Switzerland or some neutral cold place where everyone is always claimed as the happiest people on earth. Actually that was Denmark, but the Swiss always seem to have it together when it comes to life and living, aren’t they the ones who get like two years of paid child leave? Anyway as I waited anxiously for John to return to the show to let me know about how singing could have actually prevented this cancer, I began to consider all of the bullshit that comes at me on a daily basis.
You know when you hear a new word for the first time like the word, ‘taradiddle, for example. Once it is implanted in your vision, you will see it over and over again after never seeing it or ever hearing of the word before. Taradiddle, according to Merriam Webster, means pretentious nonsense. This is a perfect word for all forms of nonsense that come at you when you are diagnosed with breast cancer. “I have decided not to subscribe to any additional taradiddles.” Now since I have mentioned this word, you will see it again soon. This is the same way that all cures for cancer show up once I was diagnosed. It was like every movie I watched, every interview I heard, every newspaper article I came across all had breast cancer prevention advice. This just confuses the hell out of me. What to eat, vegetarian or paleo. Lowfat high fat, dairy, no dairy, supplements, no supplements, soy, no soy, chocolate, no chocolate, never mind the alcohol and sugar discussion. One constant is the importance of exercise, but everything else is up for grabs. When I ever heard this last commentary I thought, these attention grabbing one liners are so fricking irresponsible. They grab you by your collar and shake you up because every time you hear one, you can’t help but feel a little personally responsible for getting cancer.
Do you mean, John that if I had joined the church choir at St. Michael’s parish a few years back, I would still have my breasts? Is this what you mean? Now what do I do? Should I still join, I mean I already have had cancer twice, so is it worth it to continue to explore my singing options going forward or did I miss my chance because I failed to sign up? I can only imagine the nice grandmothers out there hearing John say this and immediately calling up their newly diagnosed granddaughter to let them know the news. “Join the choir at church, dear! There is a new study linking cancer prevention to singing in the choir! See there are other reasons to go to church after all.” Oh but wait John, I’m Jewish. We don’t have church choir. Well this is all water under the bridge anyway since I missed the memo and this all happened before the conclusions to the study were out on the John Tesh show.
I am sick of being told about all of the things I should be doing now that I am a cancer “survivor.” Isn’t being a survivor part of the equation? Like I survived and I used to exercise barely, eat lots of sugar, drink too much and freak out at bad customer service so maybe this is why I got breast cancer the first time. So I make the necessary changes and then I got it again. So fuck it. What is living anyway? Isn’t it living and enjoying? There’s that fine tightrope balance between wanting to ensure your health so you can enjoy your life later and ensuring your joy so you can fully live your life now. Mmm what is it, plan for retirement saving all of your money for later or enjoying your life now and using your money as it comes at you?
What I hope I have learned is that I didn’t cause my own cancer. Whether I eat the damn cheesecake or white chocolate challah bread pudding that is part of my Hanukkah party this evening or not, I really don’t believe that this decision is laying the groundwork for another round. Life comes at us for sure and this holiday season, I am a healthy and happy human living not in Switzerland or Denmark, but right here in Rhode Island surrounded by friends and family who I know love me and I love them back. This is all that is necessary and there is not one ounce of taradiddle in any of it.