Friday, February 18, 2005

Blame it on the Chemobrain

Tomorrow is Lolita's shower, so today I am cleaning house and generally wondering why the frick I thought it would be a good idea to host a big baby shower in a house that is a.) Damaged by a hurricane to the point that four people are sleeping in two bedrooms b.) Inhabited by a toddler c.) Inhabited by a sometimes-surly, bedreadlocked teenager (who may or may not have nipped into the funeral whiskey, but that is another entry) d.) Kept by ME, possibly the WORST housekeeper of all times, except for my mother. Fortunately, I now have a good excuse for nearly everything I do wrong: Chemobrain. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's a real phenomenon. The other day I Googled "chemotherapy" and "mental impairment" and found that many people suffer from a certain reduction of cognitive skills in the year (or two!) following chemotherapy.* Just another way that God says Ha!, to steal a line from a more famous ovarian cancer survivor and mother of a Chinese daughter. (Darn you, Julia Sweeney!) Did I forget your birthday? Neglect to put the trash at the curb? Buy a Matchbox 20 CD? Blame it on my chemobrain! On one hand, you think, "Geez - how tragic! I mean, I'm glad to be alive and all, but I hate all the times I go to the grocery store and come home with nothing but lightbulbs and twine and wonder why we're all so hungry." On the other hand, this means I have a good year (or two!) of completely forgivable screw-ups and blunders. It's utterly liberating. (As an aside, I think it also means I am just the kind of candidate the boys in Washington would like to tap for a top-level cabinet position. Maybe I could be the architect of our next nation-building, er, I mean, liberation campaign.) *True story: I have meant to ask my oncologist, Dr. Justakoff, about my mental impairment during my last THREE visits, but I kept FORGETTING. And when I decided to Google for answers, the words "mental impairment" did not immediately come to me, so I googled "chemotherapy" and "stoopid." I WAS A STUPID TEEN SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE So last night while I was trying to finish my supper as Buttercup used me as a jungle gym, JC was cleaning the kitchen and loomed into the dining room carrying a 2/3-empty bottle of Knob Creek, the bottle of (allegedly) very good whiskey that our friends bought for us the day Mom died. It was funeral whiskey - meant to carry us through all those What The Fuck?!?!?! moments that come with unexpected funerals. Since we're really not big whiskey drinkers (and I was still on the post-hysterectomy Lortab, anyway) we didn't do much damage to the bottle. Since then, on very bad days, we threaten to hit the funeral whiskey, but we never do. JC did set the bottle out at Christmastime, but we don't remember whether anyone had any. (Because we were so high on Lortab. Just kidding. No I'm not. Yes I am. No.) So finding the bottle 2/3-empty was a surprise. Then again, our son Xerxes is 16. Then again, we've never suspected him of drinking. Then again, maybe we're stupid. (I have chemobrain, what's JC's excuse?) Or maybe, during a sleepover, he and his friends tried it. And maybe they also hit the various flavors of Schnapps in the cabinet as well, because they all look a little low. If he did drink it, my first impulse is to make him suffer horribly and strip him of all human priviliges, including his summer trip to italy (which is already paid for, so I guess I'd have to go in his place). But since we didn't actually witness him drinking it, we can't know for ABSOLUTE CERTAIN that he is the culprit. We can punish him anyway, considering that, if he is innocent, it's punishment for all the things he's gotten away with at other times. What?! Do you hear me?! Punishment? Privileges? Is this me talking? I was younger than Xerxes the first time I got drunk. I was younger than he the second and third times I got drunk, and those experiences were so miserable that they taught me I didn't really like to drink, and therefore I am the kind of person who keeps a bottle of allegedly very good whiskey in my house for almost a year without ever having a sip. So, pretty much, I am at a loss. The only thing I know for certain is that Buttercup and her future sister will have to live at a boarding school when they're 16 because I seriously don't have the strength to go through this two more times.


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