Thursday, January 28, 2010
Jan 1 through 4
A few more days of peace and quiet down at gorgeous unspoilt Whale Beach(about an hour from Sydney) with Rachel and a dear friend Lydia and on my last day in Sydney I actually wake up feeling somewhat refreshed and not unlike a human being – but no rest for the wicked. One hour later, after a lightning visit to a fabulous local artist Bruce Goold, I am heading back to Sydney to pack. Me and my boy wrench ourselves from the sultry Sydney summer back onto the plane and a few hours into the tedious flight back, memories of penguin watching at twilight and xmas lunch with all the cousins and the dinner party of oysters and artichoke pasta at frank’s and vegemite on toast at Janey’s are beginning to fade.
By the time we're waiting for our luggage at LAX (why does your life flash before you in such a deeply depressing way as you wait for luggage?), it’s hard to believe that we were in another hemisphere and another season this very SAME day (due to the 19 hour time difference) with lovely folks we won’t see again for a good long spell. Traveling is very fucking weird and I am thrilled that Lola is in fact still there – having decided to stay on for another ten days to go on a road trip to Queensland with her bff Matilda Brown.
Jan 5 –Next day.
The alarm goes off at 7am after what seems like ten minutes of sleep- and I wonder for that weird couple of moments where the hell I am but I look down at the floor beside my bed and it all comes back to me… a frenzied session of unpacking Nick’s bag at 3am resulted in a sandy pile of stinky damp clothes on the floor which I step over as I stagger to his room and try to wake him. And it’s now that I remember the poor child has a science test today and yes, the relevant pages from his science text book that I conscientiously Xeroxed for him are still packed neatly in his back pack – having naturally not been perused by student ONCE during entire vacation. What a shock. I feel genuinely sorry for him and it’s tempting to say “Go back to sleep honey, you can skip school today” and run back to bed myself. But he’s already missed a day of school so, setting a dangerous precedent, I take him Weetabix and hot milk in bed along with his Adderal and beg him to sit up and eat.
As we drive to school in the biting cold we’re not used to after a spell of summer downunder, I try to jolly up the sleepy teen with thoughts of how cool his new buzzcut is and how his pals will probably like it. (Blow me down if after two long years of unsuccessful threats mixed with cash bribes if only he would cut his shoulder length hair, he doesn’t slip out one morning three days after arriving in Melbourne with cousin Jane to the same barber my dad used to go to and get his hair buzzed within half an inch of his head!) Well, the bad news is –he failed the Science test. The good news is that YES, his pals dug his hair cut and by Friday, not one – but THREE of them had followed suit and gone from long flowing locks to short, crisp crew cuts! My son the trend-setter. I was disproportionately proud of the giant child who grew half an inch over Christmas. But trying to keep some perspective, made him retake the science test and after long nights of jetlagged study, we got a C.
Oh my God. The jetlag. Ferocious. For days I could not stop myself from running to Starbucks after dropping him off before falling straight back into my bed. The guilt, the self-loathing as one finally comes to at 1 in the afternoon realizing there is a good two hours to get anything accomplished before picking up child and starting the tedious homework/dinner routine all over again before another night of tossing, turning, getting up for snacks (Janey—desperately need more Vegemite!! PLEASE SEND MORE!) and finally, more often than not, taking a friggin half an ambien at about 3am.
Oh, an update on the tits.
So the first day back I am down in Santa Monica seeing Dr Bob at 10 am sharp. He’s not too thrilled with the amount of fluid he has to drain from my left breast. Nor am I for that matter as despite an almost complete lack of any feeling whatsoever, one feels the dragging and sucking as the giant needle ‘vacuums’up the liquid. He tells me to try and do NOTHING strenuous before coming back in a week—and when I return, it’s the same story. There is a large fluid build-up which is of some concern and this time he tightly bandages me up to try and stop fluid from collecting. He explains that he can’t pump the expander with any more saline to fill up the breast as it is already twice as big as the other. I could have told him that. And then he informs me that not one but TWO more surgeries will be needed in trying to replace the expanders with permanent implants and get it looking half way decent. Two, if we’re lucky. Could be more. Greeeeeat.
The combination of realizing that I have two more surgeries, an immune system to repair, five more months of 8th grade homework, no job, no money AND mouse shit brown hair leaves me, along with the jetlag just a tad depressed. Oh- and the lovely Tamoxifen waiting for me at the local Rite Aid which my oncologist says I need to start taking now FOR FIVE YEARS. An anti-hormonal drug that “is for the risk that anything could microscopically have spread and adds to the chemotherapy to give a combined 75% reduction on the original risk of spread of the cancer” is how my oncologist put it to me in an email last week. But it also can lead to bone aching, joint stiffness and soreness, endless hot flashes, uterine cancer and should “be avoided at all costs” according to my homeopathic doctor. What to do???? I make an appointment with the UCLA oncologist I have been meaning to switch to –but exhaustion, reluctance to drive so much further to UCLA and fear of asking my current oncologist to send all the records have so far stopped me. But this is a fairly crucial decision. I need more input. And that means more than talking to one or two friends—both of whom refused to take it for fear of just ‘putting more chemicals “ into their bodies. And so –a teeny bit low and weary that I have to make more drug decisions as I gear up for another surgery, I DECIDE TO CUT MY HAIR EVEN SHORTER AND GO WHITE BLONDE.
It was a rash, somewhat impulsive move– but hideous hair and an invitation to the G’DAY USA awards for FAB AUSSIES WHO’VE DONE A HECK OF A LOT the next night calls for tough decisions and I’m pleased to say I was up for the challenge. I made the call at 11am friday. And was with my old hairdresser pal Mario by 4pm that same day. And by 6.30 Saturday night I was heading—alone of course- to join some Aussie pals at the big black-tie bash promoting OZ/USA relations in trade, showbiz and whatever else they can think of—to honor my friend Simon Baker (star of The Mentalist) along with Toni Colette and Greg Norman the golfer. And shallow old tart that I am, I gotta say I felt a hell of a lot more attractive as a blonde than as Ms Mouse Brown. A tragic attempt to recapture my youth when, a mere quarter of a century ago, I cut my hair and dyed it blonde ? Yep. A toxic overdose of chemicals onto my poor old scalp that burned like hell as said dye did its thing? Perhaps. Although both oncologist and homeopathic docs said to go ahead and do it! So what the hell?
My kids both approved wholeheartedly and at least heading off to the Hollywood Highland center to celebrate the Aussies, I felt like I’d made an effort and could hold head up high. And it was a ‘bloody good night’ as the very sweet and mighty cute Simon Baker was introduced by his old friend Nicole Kidman who clearly felt comfortable surrounded by fellow countrymen and she proceeded to tell us all that she took pride in being the one who had convinced the young jack-of-all trades but generally unemployed Simon and his wife to come over to LA about 15 years ago and ‘give it a go”. They followed her advice and some good parts finally followed. But then, about three years ago, they felt it was time to head home to Sydney and they sold up here and bought a house there. But six months later they were all homesick for LA – and they headed back-three kids in tow – to LA at which point the again-unemployed actor got a new gig and hit the jackpot. As lead on the top-rating show THE MENTALIST. Niiice.
Nic and hubby Keith Urban then serenaded Simon with a fabulous version of Men At Work’s “A Land Downunder” singing witty new lyrics of their own all about Simon and his wonderful wife Rebecca and their three kids. It was a revelation to see “Nic” kicking off her shoes in gay abandon as she danced around behind her hubby and rather touching that so much effort had clearly been put into the very personal new words.
"He's got a plan this quiet achiever.
And Becca is his dream believer."
Simon blushed adorably -as did Rebecca when the lyrics focussed on her- but it was an amazing tribute and certainly had a verve that the globes and oscars can only dream of - and I was thrilled to be there amongst the fun-loving, irreverent, champagne-swilling aussies till I looked up and saw myself on the two mega giant screens televising it all. At first I truly thought – ‘who is that sheila smiling goonishly behind Simon with a very shiny forehead and something resembling a wig hat on her head?’ before realizing it was me. I then tried to hide behind Simon but kept dodging in the wrong direction. Mortifying. Though by the time I woke up late the next day there were some nice emails from Australian friends saying they had seen it all on Channel 9 in oz and how much they liked the new ‘do’. Almost certainly fibbing. But it’s a funny old world. Hard to keep much to yourself.