Showing posts from March, 2012

Italy: Day Fourteen... The Last Day

I cannot believe the trip is almost over... After breakfast this morning, we walked along the water for a bit until it was time for our Secret Itineraries Tour of the Doge's Palace. And dudes. SO COOL! If you know me at all, you know I love a secret. And this tour was all about secret rooms, secret passages, secret documents. And it also gave me the opportune to touch ALL KINDS of stuff that I wasn't supposed to touch: desks from like 600 years ago, mirror frames, fire places, benches... Pretty much everything we weren't supposed to touch on this tour I was rubbing me greedy paws all over. Woohoo! We learned all about Casanova, who was imprisoned there and even got to see both the cell he was originally in and tried to escape from, and then the one he was moved to and eventually DID escape from! Oh, Casanova! Once the tour was done, Wendy and I set out in search of a gondola ride... But holy crap!!!! Waaaaaaaaaay too expensive and just not worth it, we decide

Italy: Day Thirteen

I always used to think thirteen was a lucky number. But not so much today. For once, I am not going to go into details, but I just felt like today could not have taken a more saddening turn. I cried tears I never wanted to cry. I felt sadness I never wanted to feel. It made me feel sick. Guilty. Foolish. Wrong. But the only reason I am even sharing that is in the interest of staying at least somewhat true to the no holds barred attitude I have tried to keep since day one of this blog. And that is all I am going to say. There was a period of utter sadness. But I truly hope that it has passed. Because i am being one hundred percent honest and truthful when I say that this trip has been beautiful. Perhaps it was not what we each personally envisioned, but in all reality, nothing could live up to the expectations of perfection we may have all had in our heads. Especially not a two week long vacation!! But aside from a few little wrinklies, for me at least, this has been in

We interrupt this vacation for an emotional breakdown.

Does anyone else ever feel like their life is not actually happening to them? Like nothing is real.  Like you're just watching it all happen in a movie or reading about it in a book?  Do you ever feel this disconnected from your own experiences? I think that, in a lot of ways, I have felt this way my whole life.  But since the moment of my diagnosis, that disconnection has gotten so much more consuming.  So much stronger.  So much worse.  And it hasn't gone away.  Not even in beautiful Italia. During this trip, this once in a lifetime trip, I have felt like a lot of the time it isn't even me that's here.  Like I'm just one of the numbers on the blog counter scrolling up and up and up, just reading about it.  And feeling that way makes me feel like I am somehow failing my parents, who put so much money and so much time and thought into making this happen for me.  I feel guilty for not having the mental functionality to plan things and make decisions, let alone re

Italy: Day Twelve, Part Two

Oh, Xanax. You are my favorite. After spending a little while alone in the room while Wendy and mum went out for a whirl, I was feeling MUCH calmer. I took some instagram photos of our teeny tiny weird little room. I rearranged the furniture. I made it all made sense and even just doing that felt better. Mum returned first, and had procured tickets to this tour I really wanted to do called the Secret Itinerary Tour of the Doge's Palace, which is right around the corner from our hotel (not that I could find my way there on my own if I knew there was a big bag of euros just waiting there for me - this place is CONFUSING!). Then she climbed in my bed with me and showed me photos she took on their walk and I definitely calmed way down and got excited again. A few minutes later, Wendy returned and declared that she was in love with the city (and its cute boys), as well as our hotel, where she can proudly and happily touch the ceiling. So because everyone seemed so excited and

Italy: Day Twelve

This morning, we woke up in Florence, had breakfast, packed up our much heavier suitcases, said goodbye to the sweet lady who ran our hotel, and grabbed a taxi to the train station.  Getting tickets to Venice involved a 20+ minute wait in line... I keep thinking of a line from one of my favorite movies, Before Sunrise:  The two main characters are sitting together in a cafe waiting and waiting and waiting, and the American says, "Not. Service. Oriented. Observation about Europe."  This goes through my head at least a dozen times a day here.  No one in this place seems to have anything to do, anywhere to be, any agenda of any kind... Except to be rude.  And slow. Once we boarded our train, we were then delayed for about 45 minutes.  They kept saying something over the loudspeaker in broken English about a passenger in Florence involved in an ongoing police investigation and sorry for the delay.  I got to read my book for a while, so I didn't care.   Once we finally

Please Check This Link Out My friend, Nora, is skating in MY honor this year. It really blows my mind and warms my heart. If you can donate to her, please do. She is amazing. I mean, not only is she doing this, but when she was on VACATION in Cleveland last fall after my diagnosis, she spent one of her days cleaning all the dog nose prints off my living room windows for me. Because she is the sweetest... , Phoebe

Italy: Day Eleven

So, I am officially worn out. I was doing great at the beginning of the trip - running around all day and into the evenings. But now, I just feel exhausted as soon as I get up in the morning. Not that I'm not still enjoying Italy, though. Because I am. I'm just tired. This morning, our last full day in Florence, we really didn't know what exactly to do. In case you're planning a trip here, here's a little tip: Florence is small! Six days? Too many. But we made it work for the most part. We headed back to The Basilica of Santa Croce, which was actually open today. Inside, we got to see the burial places of some pretty incredible Italians: Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli, just to name a few. There are also gorgeous frescoes and all sorts of random beautiful religious art. As I think I have mentioned, I have had more than enough Jesus and Mary these past eleven days. More than enough to last a lifetime. Oi. Behind Santa Croce is the Scuola

Italy: Day Ten

Today was the first day we didn't really have a ton of stuff planned out when we set out. The only real plan was to hoof it down to Pizzale Michelangelo, which is on the other side of the Arno River and up a bajillion steps... Making it THE place to walk for the best view of Florence. With all this walking and stair climbing, I tell you what!! I feel muscles aching in my ass that I didn't even know were there! None of the clothes I brought fit me... I am very curious to see what I weigh when I get home, I gotta admit. Anyhow. When we made it up to the top to the Pizzale, it was such a pretty view. There were more souvenir vendors up there, too, so we all finally gave in and bought t-shirts. I also fund a tiny statue of The Pieta - the same tiny statue that I opted not to buy at the museum because it was like €27. Pffft. Today I got it on the street for €7!! Patience pays! I also made friends with an adorable little dog up there. Every time I have seen any dog on this

Italy: Day Nine

Today, we had our pre-booked bus tour of Tuscany. We boarded our bus at 8:30 this morning in Florence and our driver, Fabio (!!!) zoomed us straight to Siena, while our tour guide, Agata, told us some junk about the area. When we got there, we met a local tour guide named Donatella, who was a real bitch. She led us around Siena a bit and the we got about a half an hour to explore on our own before meeting back up with the group. I took this opportunity to get a gelato, even though it was like 11 in the morning. From Siena, we continued on to Fattoria Poggio Alloro - an organic farm and vineyard just outside San Gimignano. They showed us through the wine house and then through the barn where I took the opportunity to touch a cow. An organic one. As I was scratching its chin and it licked my wrist with its BLUE TONGUE, I felt sort of sad that it would end up being a delicious organic steak someday. Covered with cow spit, we then headed up to this gorgeous veranda for lunch and

Italy: Day Eight

I can't believe I've been here for a week already... And I'm going to start today's post with my first real gripe about this trip... You know how American teenagers seem generally like way bigger assholes than we were when we were teenagers? Like, how there is a significant lack of respect for anyone else, especially elders, a massively increased whorishness, and just an overwhelming sense of "yeah, fuck you - I don't care about a god damned thing"? Well, if that bothers you... Don't come to Europe. The teens here... Holy hell! I want to stab each and every single one we have encountered in the throat with an boning knife. They are miserable, skanky, rude, tacky, loud, and in every other way imaginable - genuinely awful. And I hate them. All of them. And now, back to the positivity... I avoided the hotel breakfast today and just made my own tasty snack in the room with out groceries. And then we were off to the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gar

Italy: Day Seven

Well, the Florence hotel's breakfast is totally unimpressive. I started my day with half of the world's driest roll And a not so good cup of coffee. There was nothing hot, no eggs, no decent juice... Boo! Clearly, then, I needn't mention the significant lack of chocolate cake... But whatever. I have no time to spend complaining about the bunk breakfast when there is so much to report on what all we saw today!! We began our whirlwind twirl around Firenze at the Optificio delle Pietre Dure, which is a wacky little museum my sister discovered that is devoted solely to the craft of creating beautiful inlays with semiprecious stones. It was small and bizarre and completely unique and amazing! After that, we still had quite a while until our first pre-booked tour for the morning, so we weaves through the streets north to the Piazza Della Libertà. Which is just a couple of big ass arches. Truth be told, I'm pretty much over big ass arches at this point. Then we headed

Italy: Day Six

This morning, we got up, showered, ate, and then cabbed it to the Roma Termini to catch a train to Florence! I was super excited, because Florence is the city on our trip that I am most excited about. On the train, we got the tiniest cups of coffee I have ever seen. So cute and delicious. The trip from Roma to Firenze was just about an hour and a half... And it was gorgeous. I snapped at least a hundred pictures out the window of our first class train car. The hills, the funny spindly pine trees, the orange tile rooftops... even the run down buildings in the middle of nowhere were incredible looking. I would live in Tuscany in a heartbeat. On the ride, my sister told me about how, when we went to England when we were young, she only had one tape with her - U2. And so it was all she listened to while we were there. But now, every time she listens to U2, it reminds her of that trip. I loved that idea. So I queued up The Magpies on my iPod, and will now hope that that will b

Italy: Day Five

This morning we got up early early early and prepared to LEAVE Italy for a few hours. Because, in case you didn't know, Vatican City is its own separate country. And STILL, my passport has not a single stamp in it. Bummed... Regardless of that, however, the Vatican is pretty friggin amazing. Our tour guide took us through a few key spots in there. The first that felt truly noteworthy to me was The Raphael Rooms. Seeing these gorgeous frescoes, some of which I totally remembered in detail from art school, in person was surreal. Like "Am I really here?"... Totally cool. We saw some graffiti from the 1500s, too, which, much like modern day Italian graffiti, is damned unimpressive. Eventually we made our way to the Sistine Chapel. Wendy and I had lost mum in the toilets and were so preoccupied with looking for her in there that it took us several minutes to settle down and look up! And... Wow. It was just amazing. Beautiful. And mind boggling. We stayed in t

Italy: Day Four

Last night, I could not sleep. So I stayed up until like 1 a.m. local time playing Draw Something with a bunch of different people. I cannot believe how hilarious this game is. Love it. When I finally dragged my over tired ass out of bed this morning, it was after 8. Oops!! Got myself together, joined my lovely mum and sister in the breakfast room, and AGAIN... No chocolate cake. Pffft. After we ate, we took at taxi over to the Coliseum and Roman Forum and did more of the tourista thing. The Coliseum really is pretty amazing. Huge. Impressive. Beautiful. We walked around it and took lots of photos, despite some rain. Then we zigged over to the Forum entrance, and wandered around there for well over an hour. After we'd had enough ruins for a minute, it was down past the Monumento Vittorio Emanuele II, which the locals hate. Across the street from it, we saw an amazing little man on the sidewalk carving gigantic carrots into incredible little sculptures of dragons, k

Italy: Day Three

There was NO chocolate cake at breakfast today. Bullshit. The Rome Marathon was today, so there was very little chance of getting many places, as the marathon route pretty much looped the entire city - going past all the big interesting spots. Because I am terrible at deciding what to do, and she is awesome at it, I handed the morning reins to my mum. She decided to lead us to a couple of churches. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is the largest Roman Catholic church in Rome dedicated to the holy mother. And it is gorgeous. We trekked the few blocks across town to check this place out, and it was well worth it. Completely beautiful. Gold and marble and frescos and statues and mosaics and room after room of just WOW! We even managed to be there as a Sunday mass was starting, so we got to see some of that, which is pretty damn impressive. Singing and pipe organ and a lot of Italian yammering about "o padre" and somebody named "Christie"? Anyhow, I wa

100th Post

I figured it would be appropriate, for my 100th post here, to share something awful and humiliating... Since that's sort of how things were in the beginning here... Today I very nearly shit my pants on the streets of Rome. Yes, literally. Something about lunch decided not to agree with me and I juuuuuuuuuuust made it back into the room in time to explode. (Lucky for me [and them], mum and sister Wendy went to the Capuchin Crypts across the street again so I could defile our bathroom alone.) All this rich food is just kicking my ass. It's amazing. But it's kicking my ass. Anyhow. 100 posts. It would be a milestone if it didn't feel like more. Ha. I will do a day three update later this evening... Xxo, Phoebe

Italy: Day Two

Uh... So I slept for like 12 hours. Well, no. I was awake for around 2 hours in the middle of the night, but was in bed for 12 hours. During those two awake hours, I just laid in my uncomfortable-ish bed smiling. I seriously could not stop myself from just grinning like a spastic. I really cannot believe we are here. After my epic slumber, day two began with a much needed shower and then a fabulous breakfast buffet at the hotel. All I can say about that is: Best. Coffee. Ever. And in my opinion, all breakfast buffets should include chocolate cake. Just sayin. Following breakfast, we decided to go full on tourista, and got tickets for one of those open topped, double decker, hop on hop off bus tours. Jumped on and hit the upper deck. There was supposedly narration, but their little earbuds did not fit in my tiny ears, so I decided I didn't really care what they were saying anyhow - I just wanted to SEE some things. Didn't really even care what. Hell, the "pl

Italy: Day One

I made it to Italy! I really don't think it has completely sunk in yet. We landed at Leonardo da Vinci di Fiumicino airport in Roma right around noon local time. The flight went well. After a surprisingly not-too-terrible dinner compliments of Alitalia Airlines, I watched the first Sex & the City movie and then popped a Xanax and attempted to sleep. I probably got a good 3 hours in. Not the best but better than I expected. We were disappointed to receive no passport stamps, but happy not to have to go through customs. The really just do not have the need to terrify you over here like they do at the airports in America. The trip from the airport to the hotel was speedy. Looked a lot like it could have been anywhere at home (aside from all the Fiats) until we went under some ancient ass arch thingies. Then it was all Roman Fora and whatnot. Way cool. We missed the Coliseum somehow, but had to have been rather close to it. The hotel is so pretty. We settled in a bit a

Eight Hour Layover

So I'm an hour into an eight hour layover at JFK, and probably have another hour to go til my mum's flight gets here from Colorado. If there is wifi in this ridiculous airport, the ipad can't find it, so I'm blogging on my phone. Which is annoying. On the one hour flight from Cleveland to here, I definitely learned that I am still very scared of flying. I know it's stupid but I get downright jittery when I'm on an airplane. (Should make the 8.5 hour trip to Rome interesting... I did pack my xanax.) I wasn't always a nervous flier though. I remember flying alone to Florida to visit my dad when I was like 5 years old. Didn't bother me. Even the flights to France and England as a teenager didn't really phase me. My fear started when I went to Hawaii in 1994. Something about that flight just spooked me and made me start feeling more nervous whenever I flew. I honestly don't think it got any worse (or better) after 9/11, though I understand why tha

Phoebe's Stupid Flu-bug.

I leave for Italy in TWO days.  So what does my evil body decide to do?  Get the flu!!  Ughhhhh.  I have spent the majority of the last 36 hours in bed with a fever, sore throat, cough, etc.  This is completely pissing me off.  I should be at work, getting everything prepped for my time away.  I should be doing laundry, packing, picking up prescriptions, cleaning up the house, getting ready - not laying on my back sniffling and hacking. When I woke up this morning and still had a fever of 102, I made a doctor's appointment.  They couldn't get me in until noon, so I continued to snooze off and on until a little bit ago when I finally felt like I could get up.  My fever has gone down to 99.8!  So that's already good news, but I'm not taking any chances.  Hopefully I can get some antibiotics or something from my doc and get this shit kicked to the curb. At least I've been too preoccupied with Italy to really WORRY about being ill.  They say after cancer being sick i

Almost Italy Time!

Seems like life is getting "back to normal".  Or, you know, the "new normal" they keep talking about, anyhow.  I am feeling ridiculously busy and am beginning to reestablish a social life again!  I spent a lot of time the last few weeks helping my friend Mallorie prepare for her solo art show at William Rupnick Gallery - which finally opened last night!  It was a great show and a great time.  Lots of friends and fun.  I needed it!!!  I've also been spending an absurd amount of time preparing for the Italy trip - which is in FOUR days!  (Holy shit!!)  I'm finishing my laundry today and hoping to be packed by Tuesday so that my last day home, Wednesday, I can feel relaxed and prepared and ready to go on Thursday!!!  I cannot believe it is finally about to happen.  And I'm glad for the timing because I really think just BEING in Italy will keep my mind off of the upcoming PET scan.  I don't want to worry.  I don't even want to THINK about it... X

Support Stories #1

I have been so supported and so loved through this whole ordeal.  I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am EVERY DAY for the people I have in my life.  Literally everyone I know is amazing, compassionate, beautiful and supportive.  I could spend months writing about each and every incredible person who has helped me through all of this so far.  In fact, that is something I actually WANT to do.  I've thought about it for weeks and weeks, but I was afraid that people I did not write about or didn't write about right away might feel hurt or something.  But this morning, as I was thinking this over again in the shower after another night of shitty sleep and horrid dreams, I decided "fuck it."  That is ridiculous.  No one I know is so shallow that they would feel slighted to not be one of the first "Support Stories" posted here.  This blog is about positivity and love and good stuff.  Not jealousy or insecurity.  I am pretty sure that everyone in my life is 10


Cleveland Clinic called me today to pre-register me for my PET scan on April 3.  Going through the same list of questions I went through during the same phone call four months ago was weird.  I don't want to say it was creepy, but it wasn't far from it.  As I stood there at work on my cell phone answering the list of questions (date of birth, marital status, address, insurance, place of employment, emergency contact, reason for scan...) I could feel myself back in my mum's rental car last November, driving down Lorain Road, past the Dunkin Donuts and the charter school and answering the same questions and writing my confirmation number in my shiny new cancer notebook - only then I was terrified.  This time it was just deja vu. I'm not going to lie.  I am still terrified about my upcoming scan.  I realized recently that several people think that because Dr. Flemming was jazzed about my "beautiful" pink cervix, the cancer must be gone and I must be all better.


Nearly every morning, weather permitting, between like 5am and 7am, someone walks past our house loudly singing in a strange operatic sort of way.  This has been going no for some time now.  Strangely, however, it was not until this evening that I actually, I dunno, PROCESSED this.  And how utterly bizarre it is.  And how utterly bizarre it is that I have just sort of accepted it up to now - never letting it pique my curiosity enough to even step out of bed and lean the foot and a half over to the window to peer out the blinds and see WHAT THE HELL is going on there!  I mean, that's weird, right? I brought this up to Ryan a moment ago.  I had to ask - does this actually happen, or have I been hallucinating/dreaming this for the past couple months?  But his reply: "Yeah.  That happens." leads me to believe that I have either just become so accepting of things making no sense in my life or my post-chemo brain is still so foggy that it just never registered. Either way,

A Smile A Day

Today at work, my manager said something that really struck me.  She said that she read something recently that recommended you set the following goal for yourself: Make at least one person smile every day. How cute is that?  I like to think that I manage this without putting forth the extra effort to, but I am definitely going to make it a point to pay greater attention and make certain that I DO do this.  Every day. I posted this on facebook today, and my friend Kristin (she of the posi+ivi+y bracelets and package full of hearts) posted this article on my page shortly thereafter.  I love it.  Smiling isn't only awesome, it's good for you, too!  Take a minute to read it.  You will smile! You know what else made me smile today?  My work brought in a massage therapist today to give us all (if we wanted) 15 minute chair massages.  And if there were any time slots not taken after all who did want got their rubbin', we could go again.  Which I TOTALLY did.  And it was