recent

  • this mutation
  • gone away – temporarily
  • totally top five 2k13: giveaway – closed
  • could this be the one / our new year
  • totally top five 2k13: stuff

in recent years

   

   

this mutation

There are maybe three phone calls that you’d really describe as the worst in your life: the person you love most in the world has been killed or severely injured, your beloved pet has been killed or severely injured, your doctor has test results and they’re not good.

I got the third — for which I’m grateful, to be honest, the other two are worse — and it was the worst phone call of my life after the worst, most anxiety-riddled three weeks of my life.

My girlfriend took the call for me — the saint she is, appeasing my anxiety at the cost of her own, always — so I can’t recount it in perfect detail but the gist was, “You have cancer. We thought it might be a worse, more rare cancer, so we had to send all your bits and pieces away to be double-checked which is why it’s been three weeks, but no, you’ve just got the regular ol’ garden variety of endometrial cancer.”

Cancer is not a fun word, it’s not a kind word. It sounds ugly and feels wet and clunky and hiss-filled in the mouth. It effortlessly terrifies everyone who speaks English, makes them simultaneously recoil and lurch toward you in apology and pity.

I am 28 years old and I have endometrial cancer.

I have cancer. This is what I say to myself every morning upon waking and every night as I try to fall asleep. It’s a constant, gently barbing hum at the back of my throat any time my mind quiets. Sometimes, like the evening that followed the worst phone call of my life, it isn’t quiet. I say it aloud because if I don’t remind myself that it is real, I cannot cope. I fear I will forget and my life will return to normal without me realizing and it will come again and strip it away from me again, fresh and brutal.

I have cancer.

Sometimes it comes out like a cough, sudden and jarring, scratching at my throat. My eyes water and sting, but it passes quickly — a swallow of water down the wrong pipe — and everything’s okay again.

The night I learned he results of my labs, I looked in the bathroom mirror and fluffed my hair and stroked the skin under my eyes because I still haven’t found an eye cream I want to buy. (I’m almost 30 and I live in a place where the temperature is regularly 20 below, hydration is a priority.) I looked into a face that has cleared up tremendously in the last few weeks because of a drastic change in diet and exercise, my color finally returning to me after months of severe blood loss that necessitated two separate blood transfusions and a total of nine pints of strange blood commingling with my own. I looked in the mirror and I smiled and I said, “I have cancer and I have never looked more beautiful.”

My narcissism truly knows no bounds.

“I am reading Gone Girl on my Kindle and I have cancer.”

“I am shopping for a desk lamp at Target while having cancer.”

“I have cancer and I am moisturizing my face.” “I have cancer and I’m deep conditioning my hair.” “I’m cleaning the bathroom and I have cancer.”

It’s a refrain to center my reality. For now, this thing inside of me, this vicious brutality of mutation is part of me and I must learn it, acknowledge it, accept it.

Cancer will — hopefully, prayerfully, “Please, oh please”-fully — not always be my reality, the center of my every breath, but for now it is.

I have cancer.

I have cancer and with luck, it’ll all be fine.

I am Ash, I have cancer, and I’m doing okay, really.

gone away – temporarily

Hey guys! This is just a little post to say that I’m going to be on a bit of a hiatus for — hopefully — just the next little bit.

I’m going through some serious/dramatic/unfun but not life-threatening medical/health stuff right now that is consuming nearly every bit of time and energy I have available to me, while simultaneously sapping my energy and laying me up quite a bit. It should — fingers crossed! — be managed quite soon, but I wanted to put up something so you know I haven’t just gone and disappeared into the ether.

I’ll have lots to say about this whole ordeal as soon as it’s over — lots and lots and lots — and I’ve got some fun plans for the blog for 2K14 — Double Feature Friday! Mixtape Monday! the rebirth of the Casual-Ass Book Club! Maybe Vlogging! — but for now I’ve got to take this dumb hiatus and sort my dysfunctional body parts out.

Thanks for your patience and love and kindness and encouragement! I blog for me, but man, you guys have made it so much more rewarding than I ever imagined.

I probably won’t be able to get to comments — which I’ve already been behind on because of this health nonsense — but it’s pretty easy for me to respond to email — me [at] ashrussell.com — if you find yourself unable to cope without me! It might take me a day or two or three, but I’ll get back at you. And you can always get at me on Twitter — @theashrussell — even if it looks like I’m not around.

Be well and see you as soon as humanly possible!

totally top five 2k13: giveaway – closed

Now that the last of 2K13′s Totally Top Fives have been posted, it’s time to give something away to you fine, kind souls. You know, the ones who voluntarily read all this garbage! Bless you all.

This year’s prizes — that’s right, that s is not a mistake! — are three Amazon.com gift cards! Partly because I don’t want to foist my taste on you — although at this point, you really ought to just accept it — and partly because I want to get you started on your own Totally Top Five 2K14! It’s never too early in the year to love something.

So, if you look down there ↓ you’ll see a handly little Rafflecopter giveaway widget where you can enter to win one of the three gift cards in just a couple super simple steps! Most of which aren’t even mandatory! How exciting for all of us!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
LET’S HAVE A GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway closes at midnight January 8th, 2014. I will contact the winner within 12 hours and if they do not respond within 24 hours of my email, I’ll select a new winner. Easy peasy!

Good luck! Thanks for reading and commenting and being awesome. I know there’s not a whole lot of you but you all sure do mean the world to me. ♥

ETA: Winners have been emailed, announced, and awarded! Congrats and thanks again for entering and reading and continuing to be awesome!

TOTALLY TOP FIVE 2K13: JAMZ | MOVIES | ALBUMS | TV | BOOKS | STUFF

could this be the one / our new year


tori amos, “our new year”

Dear 2013,

Thanks for trying. You could’ve done worse.

- Ash

Dear 2014,

Please, please don’t fuck it up.

- Ash

Dear Reader,

Whether your 2013 was magical or terrible, I hope 2014 is better. I hope you’re healthier, smarter, richer, happier, safer, and more fulfilled. I hope you get to do new things that excite you and I hope you get to do things you already love. I hope that life is kinder, the world brighter, and love deeper and more available to you than ever before. I hope that you get to really and truly love something with your whole heart this year, especially if it’s something dumb and joyful. I hope you do you, be you, and love you to your absolute capacity.

You’re the best and I am so lucky to know you. No, really.

- Ash

totally top five 2k13: stuff

So, like last year, I found myself with a little collection of miscellaneous things that I loved this year that I wanted to share and so I’m throwing ‘em all together here for your perusing pleasure!

5. iPhone Apps [lift | daily goals | tody]

Though I am legally and technically an adult — and have been for ten years — I am not great at managing my life. I am really forgetful! And there are just days where I struggle to function for a variety of physical and mental reasons that don’t particularly need to expanded upon. On those days in particular, I am grateful for these three apps, but, really, they’re my every day saviors.

I’ve been using Daily Goals for a really long time now and my goal list has gone through a couple of different iterations and each one has been as useful as the last because the app is so clean and simple and functional. The developer has added some extra functions recently that are nice, but not always functional (the streaks don’t seem to work correctly at all for me?) but I don’t need them anyway, so I don’t really care. I track my every day things in here — vitamins, tooth and skin care, and my selfie-a-day — and it’s nice to be able to scroll through the calendar and see if I’ve missed days.

I’ve been using Tody for quite a long time too and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s a cleaning to do list that actually works and allows you to set tasks and how frequently they ought to be done and it’s all really easy and functional. It’s not the prettiest app in the world, but I don’t care because it does exactly what I need it to do without being fussy or overly complicated.

Lift is a relatively new addition to my system and I really love it. It’s got a community aspect to it that I didn’t care about when I started but have actually found to be kind of motivating. It’s surprising how accomplished a thumbs-up can make you feel! It’s a nice looking app with relative ease of use and functionality. I am not fond of the recent update with the 21 step goal system and wish desperately that there was a way to turn it off; I wish you could create new goals/activities instead of only being able to pull from the ones that already exist — sometimes you just need a really specific goal, you know — and I wish they hadn’t taken the ease of just hitting the checkmark away — you’ve got to hit and save and exit now and it’s pretty silly — but I think it’s a great app despite its flaws.

4. Songza [songza.com]

Songza is a lot like Pandora except Songza has the magical Musical Concierge which helps you choose the station you want to jam to by letting you pick the activity you want to soundtrack. You can even choose playlists based on moods, decades, or cultures/communities. It’s got minimal ads on mobile — way fewer than Pandora at the very least — though you do sometimes have to sit through one if you choose a favorite playlist rather than choosing through the concierge (which wouldn’t bother me that much except it’s always the same video ad for Mondavi wines which should just be subtitled ‘Boring White People on a Dock’) and I think the variety is solid. Plus, it seems to get new music really quickly, which I only know because new BeyoncĂ© jamz pop up with regularity.

I work out to Performance Enhancing Pop: Running almost every day and go to bed to Psybient or 3am Airport pretty often. The holiday playlists have also been great — I’m particularly fond of Never-Ending Christmas Hits, Cozy Christmas Classics, and Jazz Christmas. I also love the 80s Slow Dance and 90s One-Hit Wonders. I prefer the app to the desktop site because it’s much more streamlined and functional. The site is kind of a mess, frankly, but they do their job regardless and the great, varied playlists are what really matter.

3. Graze & Ipsy [graze | ipsy]

I love Graze. Like, so much. Like, an insane amount. It’s a little subscription box — we get it every two weeks, since mail here can be dodgy — filled with four delicious, healthy snack servings. It rules. We’ve been getting it almost the entire time we’ve lived in North Dakota and I know it’ll be following us wherever we go next. And they’re working on bulk options so I can fill my pantry with all my favorites like the veggie sushi plate, my thai, dark rocky road, and boston baguettes. It’s rare that I don’t like something from Graze and even then it’s usually just because I’m a fussy weirdo that doesn’t like goji berries. Such a good, cheap, fun thing to get in the mail! Plus, if you use the link up there, you get your first and fifth boxes free!

I initally tried Ipsy way back when it was still called GlamBag and ordered it alongside BirchBox to see which I liked better. I wasn’t impressed enough to keep either, but I thought GlamBag was leagues ahead of BirchBox*, so when I was looking into subscriptions again, I decided to give it a newly-renamed second chance. I loved that first bag back and haven’t been disappointed with one since. The bags are so so cute — November and December were particularly cute! — and you get a really decent selection of items. I love the POP Eyeshadow Trio I got this month, the BH Cosmetics Baked Eyeshadow I got last month, and have loved and learned a lot from what I’ve received thus far. For $10 a month, you can’t ask for a lot more.

2. Bobbles [amazon | waterbobble.com]

We ordered a couple of Bobbles back in March after I saw my friend Cam raving about them and because even though we like the tap water here, it has a little bit of a weird taste. I grew up on Los Angeles municipal water which is either terrible or the best in the country, depending on who you’re talking to, so I either have really high standards or exceedingly low ones. Either way, we thought it couldn’t hurt to run what we drink through a filter. We loved them so much, we bought two more and they’re the only way we drink water now. They’re particularly nice because the water that comes out of our tap is really cold, so we just drink and refill throughout the day. We both like the Bobble Sport better, since the cap stays attached and we don’t have to hunt them down all the time because we’re forgetful like that.

1. Bath & Body Works Three Wick Candles [spiced apple toddy | sweater weather** | champagne toast | leaves | lemon mint leaf]

I talked about these before at great length and since then, my obsession has only gotten worse. I mean, to the point that I just placed an order about twenty minutes ago so that I could snag some of my favorites to stockpile while they’re super cheap (Use TREAT4YOU for $10 off $40 or WINTERWISHES for 20% off!) during holiday clearance. I mean, it’s so bad that I’m going to have to work out some sort of storage system for them as they go in and out of seasonal usage. I feel like some sort of candle-hoarding monster demon? But it’s kind of worth it to be honest. And since the three-wicks go on sale (2 for $22!) pretty regularly, it’s not too terrible an obsession to have.

My personal favorites thus far are linked up above — Spiced Apple Toddy and Champagne Toast are probably my top two though I haven’t actually burned Champagne Toast yet. It’s part of the seasonal line, but it’s so bright and fruity that I’m saving it for spring/summer where I think it’ll be much more suitable. Spiced Apple Toddy is maybe the best smelling Christmas scent I’ve ever smelled. It’s sweet, but not sugary and tart apple heavy, but it’s got a nice spice that makes it feel super holiday appropriate. Sweater Weather and Leaves are both really close in terms of fall scents, but I think Leaves is suited more for late fall because it’s got an apple base, so it feels a little more holiday-ish/pre-Christmas. Sweater Weather is just unbelievable. And I haven’t burned Lemon Mint Leaf yet, but it smells so good in the jar I want to eat it. So, so pretty. I also love Fireside which is masculine and woodsy without smelling like a campfire.

I recommend only spending the cash on the three-wicks, by the way. The minis and the smalls have, in my experience, burned very poorly and had very little impact scent-wise. Go big or, you know, go home without a candle.

Previously: 2K12 | JAMZ | MOVIES | ALBUMS | TV | BOOKS

*: I cannot emphasize how much I genuinely hated BirchBox. I mean, really, hated it. I opened the box, went through what was in it and went, “I spent ten bucks on garbage!” and I am still angry about it.

**: Amazon links just provided for reference because those scents aren’t currently available on the Bath & Body Works website. I don’t actually think you should spend two or three times what they cost in store. I don’t even think you should pay what they cost in store, to be honest. Wait for sales!