Pop Culture Comfort Food
I haven’t done much yet today. It’s almost noon, but the drugs are weighing me down and I’m not inclined to get up out of my chair. There are days like this. It’s okay. I’ve arranged my life to make it okay. (I mean, okay-ish.)
But one must develop strategies for all levels of the chemo blahs, just as other people must develop for their own various illnesses and incapacities. Sometimes I knit or read or write this blog. Sometimes I plow through the paperwork of being a terminally ill person – it does tend to pile up.
At other times, the world is swirling around me, my head is hurting, and I can’t find the energy to lift a knitting needle, book, or pen. The questions on the forms don’t make sense, and I can’t remember where to look up the documentation the insurance companies are requesting. What then? Silence can be beautiful, but not all of the time.
I have a cadre of movies, shows, and podcasts that I turn to when I’m in this state. There are certain requirements each must have to make it onto the list of my Pop Culture Comfort Food (to borrow a term from one favorite podcast). Here are my parameters for days like this:
1. It must be light-hearted. I manage to stay above the grayness and negativity of the illness and the treatments most of the time, but a dark tv series might just push me over the edge. That means no dramas or political stuff. It’s gotta make me laugh, swoon, or both, or else I’m changing the channel.
2. It must be familiar. During the first week after chemo, I drift between sleep and wakefulness so easily that I’m going to miss half of whatever is on. I like to turn on something I’ve seen or heard a million times so that my brain can fill in the blanks during my micro-naps. I need to be able to mute it for a phone call from a doctor or to chat with whichever angel has come in to do my dishes. Imagine watching “You’ve Got Mail” for the first time and falling asleep while Joe Fox is still with Patricia. When you wake back up, he’s living on his boat. This is unacceptable for your fist viewing, but is not a problem for me because I have the elevator scene memorized. (“Where are my Tic Tacs?!? Ugh!”)
3. It must be interesting enough to entertain me in my waking moments. Some of the drugs I take are steroids, which means that there are plenty of times when I literally can’t keep my eyes closed, but don’t have the energy to do anything with them beyond staring at the tv. So I can’t be tuned in to a reality show with a host that I find boring, and it can’t be the Home Shopping Channel.
4. It can’t be On Demand because, unlike Netflix that will play three in a row automatically, On Demand binges require you to press a button after each episode. Of course, Friends is perpetually on at least one cable channel, never stopping to mock you with that question, “Are you still watching?” (emphasis mine), so they are always an option.
So here is my list, just in case you need some ideas for your own sick days this winter:
a. Friends. Obviously.
b. The Good Place (reruns only; new episodes must be watched at 100% alertness).
c. Parks & Recreation – I often think of myself as 50% Leslie Knope and 50% April Ludgate
d. Any HGTV show featuring the Property Brothers. Fortunately, this station also likes to run marathons of shows, so if one is airing, the chances are good that there are four or five more coming up next.
a. You’ve Got Mail
b. The Princess Bride – “Anybody wanna peanut?”
c. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Podcasts and Audiobooks
a. This American Life – the old ones. I’ve listened to them a thousand times, but some stories never get old. Favorites include “Notes From Camp”; “24 Hours at the Golden Apple”; and “Christmas and Commerce”, wherein David Sedaris reads his Holiday classic, “Santaland Diaries”.
b. The first Harry Potter book, as read by Jim Dale. Early in the series, the stakes are pretty low, things haven’t gotten too dark yet, and that guy’s voice is an absolute treasure.
How about you? What is at the top of your Sick Day list?