in recent years

   

   

can’t count the years on one hand

Dear Crystal,

I tried to write this like a regular post, like I was talking to my mythical invisible audience, and I tried it like nine different ways and they were all terrible, so I decided to write to you instead. You’ve been my best audience from the very beginning anyway.

It’s been six years since we first decided to try the whole dating thing! Can you believe it? Isn’t that crazy? Six years that you’ve stuck by me and continued to make this thing work even when it’s insanely hard. Six years of dumb fights interspersed with the rare important ones. Six years of laughing at each other, with each other, at everything and everyone. Six years of loving each other.

I feel like this is one of those times where I should say, “It’s not always easy, but nothing that’s worth it ever is” or one of those things, but it’d be a lie because loving you is the easiest thing I have ever done — hands down, no contest — and the most rewarding.

You are so smart and so funny and so beautiful. It’s kind of horrifying how much I like you, honestly.

I have been so, so lucky to know you for the last seven-ish years, so lucky to have gotten to be your friend and to love you intensely and romantically and grossly for most of it. Everyone that knows you is better for it. We’re all lucky to have you in our lives, someone so unbelievably loyal and generous and kind. No one who knows you really deserves to and most of us know it.

You take incredible care of me and everyone you love. You care so much and so deeply that it astonishes me. You make me laugh every single day, even on the worst days I’ve ever had. You laugh at my stupid jokes and you encourage me to be the best writer/friend/daughter/sister/girlfriend/person I can possibly be.

I love spending my days with you, even when they’re filled with dumb adult decisions and errands, even when I’m being medically probed and prodded, even when everything else is terrible — you never are. You are the best part of every day.

The last six years have been the most important of my life, I think, for a lot of different reasons, but mostly because of you. I will never stop being grateful for you, for your love, for your remarkable and indescribable presence in my life. I will never stop being thankful that I get to share that life with you, that we have a life together. Loving you is the greatest thing I’ve ever done and I’ll never stop being grateful that you let me do it.

– Ash

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