A Very Self-Indulgent Post

I’m done with my third round of chemo! Only one more to go. Have I blogged about chemo yet? I can’t remember.

Yes, if you haven’t heard of it, there is a thing called “Chemobrain.” It means your brain is just kinda fried. Literally. Chemo’s also frying my tongue, gums, mouth walls, teeth, eyes, hair, nails, and skin. It screwed with my eyes so bad that I had to get glasses! No joke! My eyesight had been getting worse gradually, but then suddenly, over the course of a couple of weeks, it became so bad I didn’t feel safe driving. The Remarkable Jenny Gringer recommended her glasses people, Discerning Eye, here in Iowa City. They’re pricier than online places (which many others of you have recommended, thank you), but I really wanted to support local–– at least for my first pair. They were very sweet, and I am now a glasses wearer. Just like that. Here they are:

I will say that all of chemo’s effects on me have been mild. I only had nausea for a few days after this past round, and my energy is holding steady at about a 5. The real headache is–– not headaches, thank goodness–– but hot flashes and weight gain! I’m receiving hormone treatment, which has temporarily put me into menopause. I’m not exactly sure how it works–– I just know that I get a shot in my belly once a month (and will for the next five years) that has caused my periods to stop, my metabolism to slow down significantly, and gives me hot flashes about a million times a day. My meds must really be working though, because I haven’t noticed much of a change in my moods. Hooray!

Having a hot flash, by the way, is something I am very familiar with. In fact, I’ve had them as long as I can remember. Before menopause, they happened whenever I was uncomfortable. No matter the cause, no matter the setting. As soon as my fight-flight-freeze-faun-etc. response is triggered, my body blushes, and it’s the exact same feeling as a hot flash. Waves of heat rolling through my body, and focusing mainly in my chest, face, and ears. What? OH I SEE you already knew that? OH I SEE, EVERYbody already knew that, gotcha. 😑 My sisters know the feeling.

Oh speaking of my sisters! I got to go see them! Well, two of them–– I’ve already apologized to the rest. I went down to Nashville and stayed with my sister Erin (who lives there), and our sister Anna Laura drove over from Knoxville and visited for a day. It was the chillest. Erin and her partner Stephen made all our meals, which is like saying I had a therapy session with Oprah basically. The food we consumed over that weekend was beyond. A full brunch spread with fresh-ground coffee–– two days in a row! A delicious charcuterie (spelled that right on the first try 💅) board, homemade pizza in a real Ooni pizza oven, and birthday cake. It was really divine. Oh and we had incredible cocktails made by a real connoisseur (did not spell that one right the first time). Stephen’s liquor cabinet is a fairyland. Meaning of course that it is sparkling land full of magical potions, dangerous spells, and things that I don’t know what are. Haha. Watching Stephen make a drink is like watching a magic trick–– you don’t know what’s going on, but that’s okay because it’s fun to watch and you know the end result is going to knock your socks off. 🥁

We had such a great time, even though we hardly did anything. We mostly just sat on Erin’s patio and talked. Every time we see each other, I get so excited that I forget everything I was going to say! So I’m writing this now, and hopefully I’ll remember it next time: WRITE DOWN CONVERSATION TOPICS BEFOREHAND. It’s all right though, we had great conversation anyway.

My sweet sisters had presents for me too. Among other things, they gifted me a luxurious cashmere hat (it is my favorite of all time) and a pair of sheepskin house shoes (also my favorite of all time). The softness I crave these days makes me feel like I’m subconsciously looking for a place to molt or something. Ew!

Erin also gave me a book to read called The Cancer Journals. It’s the cancer-related journal entries and reflections of a woman named Audre Lorde, who I’d never heard of before reading the book. I had a visceral reaction to the first twenty pages, and not the kind you might expect. Unless you know of the author already. She’s a self-proclaimed black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet. Anyway, I was kinda shocked by some of the language she was using, and her clear disdain for certain people/kinds of people, but what really threw me was her firm stance against reconstructive surgery after mastectomy, and people who choose to have it. I had no idea this was anything close to a controversial topic! And boy, to hear her talk about it, you’d think it was akin to abortion!

I’m not very far into the book yet, but from what I can tell (and with a little help from my sisters), the argument is that a boobless chest is a battle wound and part of a survivor’s story, and also that fake boobs don’t serve any useful purpose. I have a feeling I’ll be writing another blog about this in the future, but here are a few facts that I feel like yelling:

• I have ZERO shame about getting myself a custom boobie.
• Maybe boobs are over-sexualized (I honestly haven’t noticed?), but I, for one, think they are sexy (especially mine💅).
• I don’t need an empty spot on my body to remind myself and others of what I’ve been through.
• I don’t think of my cancer as a battle (should blog about this too sometime).

All that being said, I am grateful to be reading the book, because 1) otherwise I wouldn’t be aware of this controversy, and 2) she’s inspired me to journal more about my cancer! Which I did for quite a while today, and I realized something pretty chunky–– I feel guilty for doing so well. You guys ask me all the time how I’m doing, and every time I say something like, “You know, believe it or not, I’m actually doing pretty great!” And I can see your incredulity. Like I’m in denial or something, which, I honestly don’t think I am. This cancer has been better than a walk in the park for me–– it’s been thrilling and different and interesting. Not to mention, it’s been a catalyst for incredibly positive change in my life. I’m closer to my community than I’ve ever been, and I haven’t smoked in half a year!

Anyway to wrap up the cancer update–– my last chemo infusion will be in one week exactly, March 29th. I will have just received my first Covid vaccine, so I might try and get some people to come over and help me celebrate (outside).

Oh and speaking of celebrating! Adam’s thesis show is currently up at North Hall! He’ll be defending on Thursday the 25th, and his show will be coming down the next day. If you want to see it, just go over there anytime this week. The doors will be open!

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Okay, I’m done with all the interesting stuff, you can go away now.

If you’re reading this, you are on my new website. I have a little buyer’s remorse about it, but when I thought, “carlabaudrons.art is available” the next obvious thought was, “I must buy it!” I mean it just makes sense. And it was only $18. I don’t think I can return it now anyway. So I’m going to use it to make myself a little more presentable. I don’t need to look like anything I’m not–– just a simple, “this is who I am and this is what I do” will suffice. But I am probably going to be a little picky about things like layout and positioning. I wish I knew how to build my own website, from the ground up. I really should’ve paid attention back in ’98 when the Pool kids were trying to teach me html. It’s funny how so much has changed in the world since then, but we still use html! Wait UH, I THINK. Do we? Do we not? ** Update: we do. I just used it to put Adam’s thesis post up there.

Anyway speaking of a website all about me, I’ve been thinking a lot about me lately. My friend Forrest once said something to the effect of, “I find great comfort in knowing that I can reinvent myself anytime I want.” I love that. And I am there. I’m a worn-out old pair of mom jeans and I’m ready for a makeover! I watched “Crazy, Stupid, Love” last night (I totally forgot that I’d already seen it, but it was so good, I kept watching even when I realized it), and found myself really hooked on this idea that–– if we’re not careful–– we can very easily forget who we are. I finished the movie and immediately started compiling a list of things for a vision board. I’ve never made a vision board before, but I have collaged some, and I do find looking at things to be inspiring, so WHY NOT! I’m going to make a vision board. The vision board of new-and-improved Carla! Not that I need improving, I just need an update.

So here are some things that are going to go on it, if I can find the right images: Running through tall grass. Memorizing something. Practicing my handwriting so I stop making dumb mistakes all the time. A toned, capable body. Reading every day. Lots of pale pink and royal blue. Champagne. More vegan. Baudrons legally. Calling friends on the phone. Grand gestures every once in a while. A creed, maybe a manifesto. Paint nails every other week. Make and wear kaftans. Weekend brunch. Only pick nose into a tissue. “I am better than the Gap.” Carry a purse. Look strangers in the eye. Tanning, carefully. Swedish & Dutch heritage. Singing Irish folk songs at an Irish pub, half-drunk. Use a planner. Sacred rituals. Jogging? Okay that’s enough for now. What a list! I like it! I like the new Carla!

I Like Me! (Picture Puffin Books): Carlson, Nancy: 9780140508192:  Amazon.com: Books

Obviously I’m trying to come up with a “new & improved” model of ye olde Carla because I’m running up against some really frustrating realities right now. Like I mentioned earlier, my metabolism has slowed to a snail’s pace. I’m gaining weight fast, and it is decidedly uncomfortable. I need to start eating less and exercising more, or I’ll be immobile soon.

Tired Seal | This little seal pup looked worn out! It's hard… | Flickr

Another frustrating reality is that–– for whatever reason–– I’ve been spending money a lot. Not spending a lot of money, mind you, just spending money whenever and wherever I can. It almost feels compulsive. It’s very weird for me, I’m not sure what to do about it. Except continue to be honest and see if a resolution appears. I get great deals. And I’m always very happy with my purchases. It’s like my brain suddenly thinks I won the lottery or something. Very, very peculiar. Earlier today, I was literally about to buy a cute little budgeting notepad, but then I realized the irony and tore myself away from the cart. It was hard! I’m a strong-willed shopper! Jeez. Anyway, please deposit your thoughts and prayers here.

Both these issues have everything to do with appetite. I’m sure there are a million self-help books on “The Appetites.” It’s a concept that feels ancient, primal, spiritual. If anyone has any book recommendations, lmk. I want to think more about it. My appetites these days are really off-kilter. As far as my food appetite goes, I’m taking Adderall, so I don’t “feel” hungry often. I eat breakfast out of habit, many days I forget to eat lunch, but then when I’m feeling antsy or bored, I’ll head to the kitchen just to fill time. I make big dinners because I my husband doesn’t eat enough on his own; and I eat as much as he does probably because of some residual childhood fairness policy in my mind. It’s all very unhealthy.

I wonder what my shopping appetite even is. Would you call that an appetite for possessions? Or maybe comfort? When I think about buying something, 9 times out of 10, it’s pleasure I’m after. I want the joy of looking at that beautifully-designed, brilliant blue ceramic planter. I want the comfort of knowing that blue light isn’t clogging my eyeballs because of these blue light-blocking glasses. I want the peace and happiness of listening to that adorable ceramic fountain. It certainly feels to me like it’s an appetite for pleasure. Which would make a lot of sense, actually, because my other main pleasure appetite is pretty much hibernating right now.

That’s right! I don’t know what’s the most to blame, but there are several culprits for who killed my libido, and most of them have to do with the cancer. So I wonder if there’s some misplaced energy being spent (get it?). Huh! Yeah, that’s definitely the leading theory for now.

I think it’s time to change the subject. Actually, I think it’s time to wrap up this post. Hey, if you’re still reading, and you enjoy reading my blogs, do you have any topic recommendations? What kind of stuff do you want to hear me talking about? I’m curious.

6 thoughts on “A Very Self-Indulgent Post”

  1. I adore these blog posts, Carla! You’re so eloquent & inspiring. Just hearing about your life makes me so happy. Thank you for sharing with us <3

  2. It’s interesting that you don’t talk around your elders (me) very much (is it because of the hot blushes?). But you have great ideas and I love to hear them and this is where I hear what you have to say so…keep talking! You give me great ideas and some of them I even follow through on which makes me a better person. You make me a better person! Pat yourself on the back!

  3. I like hearing from you, Carla. And I miss you when I don’t hear. So, there’s that.

  4. I love reading anything you want to talk about!
    There’s a book waiting to be imagined! ❤️

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