The Day My Ear Left Home – Skin Cancer Won

IMG_20190202_161801226

Skin cancer – in my case Squamas Cel Carcinoma (video included) sometimes we don’t take it serious enough. During my hospital stays at Penn State Hershey Hospital when I had my liver transplant one of my doctors told me there were more people dying of skin cancer in the hospital than any other single reason. It was mostly from melanoma because it gets inside the body and it can’t be successfully treated. They make them comfortable. That is scary.

<<< >>>

I didn’t realize how attached I was to my ear until I knew for sure I wasn’t going to be able to keep it, after all these years. I had no choice. I didn’t really think about my ear all that much over the years except as a place to hang earrings or as a  place to balance the other arm off my glasses. Now What was I going to do?
     I had a surgery in September 2018 and a pie wedge was cut out and my ear sewn together, now smaller but still looking like an ear. A skin cancer had formed on the back side. I’m on transplant medication for a liver transplant and was told skin cancer was very likely due to a suppressed immune system.
     I had other cancers cut out of my forehead and top of my head years earlier, but the cancer grew back on my ear almost immediately. So now they cut off everything but the lobe!! At least I can wear earrings – later.

IMG_20190218_103942148
     They did two skin grafts to kinda sorta make an ear so I can wear glasses, but trust me, it looks like an animal chewed it off. Now I’m have grieving issues missing my ear that I had not fully appreciated having.
     Now I’ll have to shave the side of my head and have 30 rounds of radiation – but no chemo. THANK GOODNESS!
     So I’ll shave both sides of my head, leaving bare a couple inches around my ear(s) which will leave me with a kind of Mohawk, cut short. I threatened my husband I’d dye is purple or green. It will be short enough to grow back fast. What the heck, will I ever act my age!!

NOT A CHANCE! That is no fun, and why start now?

     So, the moral of the story is: don’t think you don’t need sunscreen!! My son works on boats at a marina. He nixxed sunscreen because sweating and sunscreen don’t mix. But now he says he will change. He has to at least wear clear Zinc on his nose and ears.
     All the other people in the Dr office waiting room had bulbous dressings somewhere on their face just like mine. A man had one covering his nose. Oh dear!

IMG_20190220_141627905

     Fortunately, I had a old pair of broken glasses. The left arm broke off and it was my left that was cut. They still balance pretty good with one arm, otherwise I didn’t know what I was going to do.
     I was given needles of lidocaine for these surgeries. They are painful, like a succession of bee stings. I can’t imagine a needle numbing my nose. Ouch!! It makes my eyes water just thinking about it. But I get a bunch of needles in my ear and in the skin on my head around the ear and on my chest where they did two skin grafts.
     The other weird think was HEARING the sissors cut through the cartilage, and hearing him sewing the stitches and pulling it through the skin! Fortunately the doctor was young (37) and good looking with a great smile. That at least helped the process.

Skin cancer is no joke. It’s amazing that some people still think they are invincible and bake in the sun or use tanning beds. I did, too, for one year 34 years ago and I got out of the sun a long time ago.
     My generation didn’t know. We used iodine and baby oil to bake ourselves like a chicken in the oven. I don’t think the word “ultraviolet rays” even existed in the 60’s and 70’s.
     I’m going to put a photo here to drive the point home to those of you who don’t use sunscreen and think you’ll be just fine, but I’ll use a healed one from the first stage of this cancer surgery. It was in two steps.

Step 1.  cut off the ear and cover with a skin graft taken from my chest. 

Step 2.  use the skin graft to sorta make an ear and
do a 2nd skin graft to cover up behind the ear so the new ear won’t stick to the open skin.

One last point. A few years ago a good friend of mine died because of cancer most likely caused the same way mine was. She had a kidney transplant umpteen years earlier and had been fighting cancer for quite a few years. She lost the battle. She was on the same anti- rejection medication I am on for my liver transplant. I’ve had one medical crisis after another, but I’m not done yet. I have a lot of living to do!

Keeping Time – Where Are Your Memories?

pocket-watch-1637392_1920

I came across this quote today:

“Life is not the number of days you live, it’s the number of days you remember”  

I sat and thought about it for quite awhile. I have had quite a life. At 64 I think I can honestly say that I have aggressively filled it with lots of “things”. I never settled. I never let fear take hold. I lived where I wanted to live and I did the things I wanted to do. I dealt with adversity by attacking it head on. If I said I was going to do something I did, and if didn’t work out the way I hoped, it wasn’t for lack of trying, and I didn’t find excuses and justifications and made some other reason to blame.

Most of all, if someone thinks I shouldn’t do something and has nothing to add to the reasons why, than it doesn’t make me not want to do it. My motto – and I mean this – and I’ve told this to probably hundreds of people in the last 40 years:

~If you don’t like what I’m doing, don’t watch me do it~

I don’t care if someone doesn’t like what I do. My life is my life. Period. You shouldn’t try to make people change because it is something YOU wouldn’t do. I don’t do that to them. It’s okay to express your opinion, just don’t expect me to live life the way you would.

I learned many people don’t do what they want because  of fear.

1. Fear of the unknown

2. Fear of failure

3. Fear of what people will think (other people don’t think about you as often as you think they do)  

There are also people who begin something new, but have no follow through. I know a woman – a talented woman – who began many projects, from writing a book, quilting, began a business and did all the preliminary research, created stained glass, even began painting her hallway, and on and on. She quit almost every project after starting enthusiastically.

Unfinished projects. Why? Her answer was, “I’m going to get back to them someday, maybe.” She had such a wonderful creative mind, yet had no confidence in herself. I think the answer was – if she was the one who chose to stop, then it wasn’t because she had failed. She could always begin it again, but seldom did. It was her choice.  She also told me one day, “I wish nothing changed.  I wish I could stay in my house and nothing changed. I don’t want friends, because you have to maintain friendships. If I have no friends no one will expect anything of me.” (and I don’t have to be there for them, either?) 

I thought I could show her something different – that she had value. I encouraged her to believe in herself. The end result – she believed a lie someone told her (I won’t get into that) and wouldn’t talk to me about it. It gave her the excuse to kick me out of her life, ( for the second time, and the first time lasted 35 years)  and she no longer speaks to me anymore. It’s been about 4 years now, I can’t “remember” exactly when. I’ve tried to unsuccessfully squash it down. 

Some people want to disappear. I will have no more memories of her to think about and that makes me sad. I don’t know how she is doing. Some people won’t stand up for their own life. She didn’t want to have a life beyond what appeared in front of her without any effort on her part. If you choose to believe things without finding out the truth you are taking the path of least resistance. Sadly, I’m not the only person she did this to. 

At the end of her life what will she remember? And she is my sister. 

I know my style of living is not for everyone. But I realize life is short and I’m going to die at the end of it. I have wanted to fill it up with memories so when I’m decrepit I can relive my memories. My memories of her are mostly of our childhood. 

My successes, my failures, my friends – many of them are all over the world. They live in my tablet and I can visit with them whenever I want. Except for limited family and neighbors, how many people are good friends who care about you, and you see them face to face? The internet opened up the world. 

Right now I’m making plans to meet up with a young Russian man in his 20’s during a visit to America in June, when I take the train from Harrisburg to Miami on down to the Keys. I make this trek quite often and have met some very interesting people. A man traveling who makes a living betting on sports – older woman who traveled the states when she was young, picking fruits and vegetables and loved it!

My Russian friend and I have been writing and sending pictures since he was about 15 and needed advice on how to talk to a girl in school. He was also learning to play the guitar so we talked about learning music. Such fun. He was just learning English and now speaks it proficiently. He had a goal and is making his goal come true. No, I don’t equate his being Russian with the politics of Russia with the United States. 

I started this post today because I read a quote and it started me thinking about my own life. These were the thoughts that came to mind. What do you think? How do you live your life? What do you think about taking chances and doing something new? Let’s talk about it.

As an afterthought here is music I recorded about Time:

Music, videos  and photos found here at my website

Sign up to my mailing list at that website to hear about new music and videos. Many thanks to you!

 

You Can’t Do Just The Ordinary Things

gabrielweinberg

I posted this on my other blog mynameisjamie.net as well because my project is about Jamie’s life as much as it is about my music. They are connected. One wouldn’t be the same without the other. 

You better be damn sure whatever project you are working on that you are in it for the long haul or you will fail, or you will give up.

Prison was the long haul for Jamie.

Writing a good first book and learning how to do it was mine.

I dream about finding someone in “the business” who recognizes this and has the clout and connections to do something about it. There! I said it out loud! I put it into the universe. Positive or negative, we create our own personal universe we live in. I have to trust myself.

It has been a couple weeks since I last posted, hasn’t it? I’m a little behind because life has gone into mental high gear. It is my nature to bite off more than I can chew, and then have look to chew very quickly.

And it is not only the ordinary things that have to be done. We all have a life to live. For me it is medical issues that try to get in the way. Through it I have made tremendous progress in the writing of, “Inside the Forbidden Outside.” The music and the music videos I began making a year ago and starting a YouTube Channel, Sonni Quick Piano Improv, cultivating subscribers, added greatly to the busy hours of my day.

Hours spent promoting and marketing the chapters and the music every day pushed my workday (unpaid at this point) to 16 hours a day, usually 7 days a week. This is no exaggeration. Writing slowed down and blog post writing also decreased. But the project as a whole was coming together and moving forward. The response has been overwelming. It’s exciting. Every chapter done, every music recording finished and every video completed by my inexperienced hands has been a source of joy.  And it came with inspiring comments with the connections to people increasing everyday.

I reach people through my music, to touch them emotionally about Jamie’s story. The music is the emotion of the story. It reaches out through my fingers. It is my passion. It is that passion for grasping life in your hands ant not letting go that separates the winners from the losers.

When you truly love to do something you spend every hour of every day working on it in some capacity. No excuses are good enough if you don’t see it through. I think the idea of writing a book with music was a good idea. I have not heard of any other book who combined the story and music together. If you only had one or the other you would have only half of the story.

This story I’m writing, if you haven’t read any of the chapters I’ve posted at this blog is not just someone’s experience living with the brutality of the American prison system – the Prison Industrial Corporation. It is about love and hope – failure and determination above all else, to take back his life. He was going to be a father to the son he has rarely seen. He wanted to go to school and learn things. He was a good man who was never given a chance from the moment he was born,

because. . . . he was black.. . . he was poor.. . . and he came from a southern state known for racism – and he had epilepsy.

The odds were against him. He was part of a family with four children, a mother and no father, so they raised themselves with little adult supervision. Mom worked hard to provide for her family, so how could she be there to raise them? I know that dilemma well.

Will this book help people to better understand what being in prison is truly about, and will they understand the psychological damage from grief, caused by loss? Will they understand the constant struggle inside the mind, trying to keep itself together, when what it really wants is to kick the walls and scream?

Will readers understand that? Because I know from talking to people ‘out here’ that many people don’t. The sheer number of people who end up locked in a cell that shouldn’t be is absurdly high – and then there are those who still think only the guilty go to prison.

Not every human being should be characterized and judged for the rest of his life because she/he went to prison. It is not the sum total of that person. When Jamie gets out of prison his identity should not be tattooed across his face – EX FELON. That is what happens to so many, making it so hard to survive. Even the ones who have been exonerated after decades in prison because the were falsely imprisoned have to live with that tattoo just because they were in there.

This book is the story of a great many men and a rising number of women. They are considered to be expendable people in this country which deems White Christian Americans to be a cut above all others as if skin color alone is the key to being a better person, except.  . . a better person knows how false that is and laughs at the notion that skin is the number one prerequisite for being a quality human being. Skin color isn’t even on that list.

What could the criminal justice system do to arrest and incarcerate even more people? There is no separation between good and evil. Money decides your freedom. Lock up people for any reason, true or false, and when they can’t make bail, lock them up anyway, for years! This is what lies in store for low income, minority people in this country whose guilt lies in having the bad luck of not being born in a good white neighborhood.

********

I am writing this book because all of this pissed me off. Royally! What a choice of words. So much inhumanity was happening to Jamie and I couldn’t do ANYTHING about it! I had all of this emotion running through me. I had to channel it into something positive.

“I’ll write a blog,” I said. I asked Jamie if it was okay.     “Sure,” he said, “but who would want to read about my life?” But I knew it was an important story because so many people had the same story. I realized before long I needed to write a book. Only I had never written a book (or a blog for that matter). I knew I could do it if I honestly tried.

I worked on it for 2 1/2 years. I learned a lot. I didn’t know enough about how to write a book. Writing a blog and writing a book are two different ways of writing. I took some online classes. I read and read about writing. I started over. I wrote and rewrote and continued learning. I think I am now about 60% done with the rewrite have many good tracks of music.

It is a good thing I did not try to publish the first draft because it gave me more time to be better prepared. You can find all the chapters on this blog, even the first draft chapters if you do a search on the blog using the title of the book. You can see the progress if you are interested in reading it. The first draft has too much information and not enough story. This draft is more about the story and info to support it.

That is it for now, but there is another blog post almost ready to be published – about Jamie ‘s story. A little catch up from the past and why he is where he is now. He can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but he can’t see exactly what it opens up to. 

Until then…

HAPPY New Year? Really?

Happy New Years – I think. I mean, that is what we’re supposed to say, isn’t it? We say it every year, until the illusion passes and we go back to work and the kids go back to school, broken toys in the corner of their room.

Federal workers are returning gifts for the money because landlords still expect rent money, and Trump is lying and said the workers are happy to have their life (and their own personal happy new year sacrificed) because they want him to build his ego – centered big beautiful wall so he can brag about being the best goddam president the United States has ever had. He is going to make the American people pay for that wall if it’s the last thing he does (and hopefully cashes in his chips – at his own bankrupted and closed casino in Atlantic City.) 

But personally, what do we actually do different that makes it possible to have a good and happy year? For most people, probably nothing  They are tired, trying to survive so the don’t pay attention to it. 

I saw not ONE personal new years resolution this year, because they really are a joke. What I DID see was ( too many to count in my head) sparkling posters on Facebook messenger flashing HAPPY NEW YEAR in big multi – color letters; an impersonal and meaningless way to say you care – to someone you don’t care about and have never met. 

So what is it that we (as a country and personally) are going to do differently this year that will make this a happy year? We pretend everything will get fixed by somebody, and say the same thing every year. Then we forget about it for 12 months and do it again.

I’m being cynical – intentionally – The polical climate in the US of A is so bad that it’s citizens hate each other, and that hate is CAUSED by corrupt politicians who are fighting over how much more they are going to screw us and the country in this new year – AND WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE HAPPY? And yet we put on a hat, watch a ball in NYC drop down again, party a little, wake up and go about how we are going to survive the year and fruitless I Oops a little security for ourselves as debt climbs.

Yeah, happy new year.

You Only Have One Life – Live It!

 

You Only Have One Life - Live it.Your opinion of yourself becomes your reality. If you have all these doubts, then no one will believe in you, and everything will go wrong. If you think the opposite, the opposite will happen. It’s that simple. The higher your self-belief, the more your power to transform reality. Having supreme confidence makes you fearless and persistent, allowing you to overcome obstacles that stop most people in their tracks.” – Robert Greene

********************

This is the way I think. I know this affects what happens in my life. We are what we think. There is a saying I have repeated many times throughout my life:

“If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t. You are right on both counts.” 

If I didn’t believe I could do it I would have given up what I am doing right now – writing my book, “Inside The Forbidden Outside.”  I could have stopped. No one would have cared. Many people have started books they never finished.

If you have followed me at all in the last three years – I’ve been writing this book for that long. I never thought it would take this long. It’s a massive project since I added music and videos. I’m 43,000 words into the 2nd draft, and plug away at some aspect every day. 19 chapters, one finished today. The first draft had 88,000 words. I learned a lot – about what was wrong with it. I also learned how much I didn’t know so I started studying everything I could before I started the second draft 10 months ago. You can read chapters at my other blog: mynameisjamie.net

I think this time it’s better. I know it is. I’m determined it will be. I’ve learned that I love to write. I think I can be good at it – and it doesn’t matter how old you are when you begin,

This is why I wrote down these quotes. I stay focused. I keep the end result in my head and don’t allow myself to doubt. It would be easy to think, “Who am I to think I can do this.” I’ve heard, “First books are never successful – I don’t want you to be disappointed when you fail.”

It is rare for me to take a day off. I am always working on some aspect, even if it just keeping up my social media accounts, because it keeps up my fan base with music, or readers. It grows. When I need a break I play my piano.

It would be easy at my age to not begin new dreams and opt for the comfort of what is known, but that isn’t me.

One of the main things that drives me is that Jamie’s life is in the balance. Re reading all of his letters multiple times as I put his story together, crawling inside his head is overwhelming. Reading letter after letter from the last umpteen years, and knowing where he is now, I don’t know how he does it except he has no choice. I have to finish this for him, and I need to finish this for my grandson.

In the past 5 weeks I recorded 7 new piano pieces – that I kept. I don’t keep everything I record because it is all improv. The latest one will be in the next post as a music video. Writing music for the book keeps my head balanced. Everything fits together. To hear and see my music, videos and photos go to sonniquick.net Get on my mailing list. If you like the music, share it. It is the best way to help me.

IMG_20180817_183333455_BURST001

The main thing I’m trying to get across is to never give up. Dream. Do what makes you happy. You only have one life. Make it special. Believe in yourself even if you’re the only one.

Have a great day! Sonni

You’ve got to love yourself — Cristian Mihai

“Your opinion of yourself becomes your reality. If you have all these doubts, then no one will believe in you, and everything will go wrong. If you think the opposite, the opposite will happen. It’s that simple. The higher your self-belief, the more your power to transform reality. Having supreme confidence makes you fearless and […]

via You’ve got to love yourself — Cristian Mihai

This is how I live my life and how I keep going. I tell myself – and others – you are what you think. You accomplish what you believe you will accomplish it. Don’t doubt. Be patient. The road will open for you. But if you don’t think you can do it, whatever it is, you will surely not.

Do You Live For Yourself – Or Others?

Do You Live For Yourself – Or Others?

 

Did you grow up in your hometown, marry young, buy a house close by and stay there for the rest of your life; or did you spread your wings and fly off, finding new places and new friends, living places you chose to move to as the opportunity presented itself and saw life as an adventure? Is one way better than the other? Look at yourself now. Did you do the right thing? Would you admit it to yourself if you didn’t? Would you go back and do something different?

I’m in my mid 60’s. I enjoy my age. I think I’ve acquired a bit more wisdom, and a heck of a lot of determination to finish life pleased with how I lived it. I climbed the mountains and survived – so far. As I look back on my life, each decade I went through was in a different place as well as a different way to survive, staying away from the conventional paycheck and instead relying on my ingenuity.

I know clearly where I was at each development of wisdom. Why me? What made me want to experience newness while the rest of my family felt comfort and security was more important because everything stayed the same? Someone I grew up with once told me she wished nothing would ever change. She’d stay in her house. She said she didn’t need any friends, they were too much bother. Was that her idea of happiness? Looking at her life now what effect did that have on our relationship? Not a good one.

What makes one person want to experience the newness that comes along in life? We have a choice to grab onto it or ignore it. Do we take the chance to make new friends or change careers, or perhaps begin a new hobby, and another person in the same family chooses the safety of only what is familiar, the comfort of routine and the predictability of sameness. Work the same job for decades even though they hated it? For the paycheck? It is worth giving up the possibly of finding a creative part of yourself just to stay in your predictable comfort zone?

8451194

It takes all kinds of people to make the world go ’round. There isn’t one perfect way that is good for everyone. I chose long ago to not live with fear of the unknown. Any day could be my last – your last. I would rather leave this life with a smile on my face with the possibility of a new adventure on the horizon. When do you stop living with anticipation? “What if I went there and learned how to do that?”

The real definition of failure lies in never trying; crawling into your routine until you can finally justify your actions by saying, “I’m too old.”

Long ago I developed a mantra and have told it to many people along the way who also have had people in their own lives who had opinions about how they should live their life, even though it wasn’t theirs to judge. “If you don’t like what I’m doing, don’t watch me do it.” I don’t care what other people think about my life, especially when they don’t want to be part of it.

I’ve never owned a home, nor have I wanted to. I want to be able to leave when I’m ready, and I don’t want to have to repair the roof or other maintenance.

I want to be able to choose how I spend my day. Will I ever “grow up?” I seriously hope not. Life should be enjoyed. If you take care of yourself you have a better chance of not letting age bring you down where all you have to talk about with your friends are your medical problems. I will go out with a fight.

Every day you wake up is a day you can fill to the top with things of value. You are what you think. You attract people in your life who appreciate who you are.  If they don’t appreciate you get rid of them. They aren’t worth the trouble. The people I grew up with became people I couldn’t be around any more. Or rather, they couldn’t be around me. My mother told me more than once, “You scare them.” Inner strength and confidence makes some people uncomfortable. So I was kicked out of family get-togethers because maybe I’ll say something outside of the platitudes of talking about jobs and weather. I also hate gossiping about the perceived misfortunes of others.

Everyone has a choice about how they are going to live their lives. Some are waiting to die hoping for happiness later. I choose to be happy now – or die trying!

<<< >>>

sonniquick.net – my main music website. You can subscribe here to my mailing list for music and music videos