So apparently I’m cancer free.

I went in for a CT scan Monday last week, and got the results on Thursday. No evidence of cancer. In the same week my Dad found out that there is no evidence of cancer in his system either. As a family we’ve been dodging bullets like we’re in the Matrix.

Like this, but cooler.

I am one very relieved human.

It’s not over, because this kind of thing is never really over. I still get monitored every month for the next six months, then every six months after that until I’ve survived cancer long enough that death by misadventure becomes a more likely thing to read about my inevitable demise.

I wish I could say that I felt instant overwhelming joy at finding out from my oncologist that even the little smudge on my lung was gone, but what I actually felt was tired. I’d been wound up pretty tightly in the days leading up to the CT scan results, and getting the good news meant that I could let go of all that tension. I wasn’t really worried about dying, but I REALLY didn’t want to have to do another big cycle of chemo.

Chemo is my friend, it saved my life, but it’s the kind of friend I’m happy to appreciate from a distance.

I finally feel like I can at least sort of move on with my life, which is scary, because all of those things I was putting off until I was cancer free? Now I have to do them.

There are a few things on that list, and they’re either scary, expensive or scary and expensive. I also need to make some scary adult type life decisions in the next few months and a part of me really doesn’t want to.

It doesn’t matter though. I get to be alive, and existing is an important first step in attaining your life goals.

I’ll let you know what happens.

 

 

Like the title says, fear is a weird thing.

This is one of the free images that comes up when I Googled 'fear'. To be honest this guy seems more cute than scary...

This is one of the free images that comes up when I Googled ‘fear’. To be honest this guy seems more cute than scary…

 

It’s not even one thing; the bitter, hot, sharp fear that you get when you know a fight is about to happen is different from the deep, cold dread you feel when someone you know is very sick and that’s different again from the background fear that comes in when you yourself are sick. The fear that just hums away in the back of your mind.

When I first got diagnosed I felt the hot fear. My heart rate jumped up, I couldn’t hear properly for a few seconds (I think. Memory is even weirder than fear.). I had the same thing when I found out I needed chemo, but both times that fear faded back into the background. I got caught up in just doing everything I needed to do to survive and the fear had to take a back seat. The fear was always there, ready to poke its head out at weird times, but it never went back to being that sharp, intense fear.

Until this morning.

I needed a CT scan to make sure that the cancer has stayed away after we punched it in the face with chemotherapy. I had been anxious before then but nothing too terrible, normally the worst thing about a CT scan is feeling like you’ve peed your pants after they shoot you full of contrast dye. But while I was waiting my turn I felt a sudden rush of real, sharp fear. I felt like I wanted to punch something, preferably while also running away. This wasn’t down to a bad result, I won’t get the results until Thursday, it was just one of the those moments where my body decided that punching seven different shades of crap out of cancer was a viable strategy, and if that didn’t work fleeing down the hallway crying was also a workable plan B.

As bad as the fear was, it didn’t last.

A little kid ran by me trailing a sizable amount of toilet paper (and an exasperated parent) and that was enough to send the fear back into its lair at the back of my mind. By the time the nurse arrived I felt back to my normal self, but just for that one moment my normal self was nowhere to be found.

I hate that feeling. I worry about what I’ll do or say when fear has the reins.

I’m just lucky that little kid went running by.

As far as I can tell, I’m fine. In fact I’m in better health now than I’ve been for a long time, but that fear is always there, waiting for its moment.

I think that’s what I’m most afraid of. Not the cancer itself, if it comes back there are other things we can try, but that when the fear slithers back out into the world, I won’t be able to pull it back in again.

 

 

 

10 Cloverfield Lane was much, much better than I was expecting it to be. If you have plans on seeing it you might want to stop reading this review now so you go in unspoiled. The short version is this: It’s really good, it’s probably not what you were expecting and the cast absolutely smashes it out of the park.

From this point on there are going to be spoilers so don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’m going to put an image of the poster below so you don’t see anything if you just want to go to another website.

If you feel like wasting a day I recommend TV Tropes.

I won a double pass to go and see a pre-screening of 10 Cloverfield Lane and literally couldn’t find anyone else I knew who wanted to see it that wasn’t busy fulfilling their responsibilities. Stupid adulthood, making them do the responsible thing.

They missed out.

10 Cloverfield Lane is one of the best sci-fi films I’ve seen in a while. Yes there are some plot holes, and the ending is, uh, big…but none of that really matters because the movie hits the tone so perfectly and the cast is so good at selling their respective roles. I spent the entire movie with an elevated heart rate because director Dan Trachtenberg draws out the tension in every scene until the air is thick with menace.

The movie starts with Michelle, played to the hilt by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, leaving her fiancee and driving into the countryside. She gets into a terrible car accident, and wakes up in an underground bunker to the news that there has been some sort of terrible attack on the USA, that virtually everyone else in the country is dead, and the only reason she’s still alive is that she was pulled from the wreck of her car by doomsday prepper Howard (John Goodman) who happened to have his own underground bunker set up and ready to go.

From the get go Goodman absolutely dominates the screen. In the confined spaces of the bunker his sheer size makes him a menacing presence and Goodman lends him an intensity that’s scary in its plausibility. There are plenty of people in the world like Howard, and despite his growing paranoia, Goodman never plays him as a caricature. At least at first, he seems like a relatively kind man with some personal issues and an entirely worthwhile end of the world plan.

That kindness doesn’t last.

When Michelle finds her way out of her tiny cell/room and meets the other inhabitant of the bunker, the goofy, genuine Emmet (John Gallagher), Michelle attempts to make her escape, thinking Howard is totally off his rocker and has kidnapped her. Throughout the film it’s not clear if Howard is totally crackers or if something truly terrible has happened and he was absolutely right to make a doomsday bunker and stock it with foodstuffs.

Here’s that spoiler I was telling you about. Last warning.

It turns out both are true. There really is an attack underway on the USA and Howard is also a complete monster. I honestly thought it was going to be one or the other, and by making it both 10 Cloverfield Lane put itself into a position to do something a little different with its premise. Michelle and Emmet are effectively trapped between a sort of familiar (or at least human shaped) devil in Howard, and the unknown horrors outside the bunker.

I’d like to give special mention of Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Michelle. Her character does all the things a smart, determined person would do. I never once wondered ‘why didn’t you just…’ as she constantly makes plausible decisions and plans to keep herself and Emmet safe. Her plans don’t always work, in fact some are a disaster, but she thinks, adapts and tries again. And when things go totally off the rails she keeps thinking instead of just reacting. It’s a convincing and interesting portrayal that I bought into completely.

The ending is as I said, big, and in a less effectively paced film might have been too much, but I was so invested by the end of the film that it didn’t bother me.

The violence isn’t over the top, but it’s played for the most part as real rather than say Deadpool‘s cartoonish killing, and it’s all the more brutal because of the confined setting.

The script is excellent, and it gives the actors a lot to work with. Nothing is overstated or explained, and enough is left to audience interpretation to make it intriguing without being frustrating. Writers Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken and Damien Chazelle did a superb job of pacing the dialogue and action so there are just enough lulls in the intensity to make the big moments in the film hit especially hard.

I was given a free donut before I went into the theater and I didn’t eat it because I was so wrapped up in what was happening on screen.

If that isn’t high praise I don’t know what is.

 

 

 

 

Last night I decided I needed a new t-shirt. I needed several new t-shirts. This is not a normal thought to have at 9pm.

So, after I located the supervillain cat I was babysitting and made sure she had sufficient levels of biscuits and cuddles to prevent her from ending the world in fire and darkness, I drove out to The Warehouse to see if I could locate something that would hide my pasty flesh from an unknowing public. The current bane of my existence are t-shirts that are just slightly too short as they seem to creep up while I work out and I end up wearing a sweaty fabric necklace. I have a similar problem with jeans, they hang just low enough on me to cause public outrage, but not low enough to make me look cool.

Actually no pair of jeans will make me look cool. That’s an entirely unreasonable thing to expect of denim.

Anyway, I decided that driving to The Warehouse was an entirely appropriate use of my time. For anyone outside of New Zealand, The Warehouse is a big box chain store that sells everything from garden tools to furniture to heavily discounted books…and clothes. It’s also pretty much the only place open if you decide you suddenly need one of these things late at night.

I pulled into the parking lot in darkness and got out of my car to come face to face with two of the biggest human beings I’ve ever met in person. One of them would have been very close to seven feet tall and big with it, while the other was perhaps six foot six and wearing a full metal knee brace that looked like he’d stolen a piece of a futuristic exoskeleton from the military.

We stared at each other for a moment across the concrete, the only light was from a puttering streetlamp.

Bad street lamps make for great mood lighting. Bad street lamps make for great mood lighting.

They nodded at me. I nodded back.

Then they launched back into the dance routine they’d been practicing before I’d rudely interrupted. It’s hard to describe, but considering that one of them was hobbled with a brace they were doing a good job of hitting the choreography.

As I walked into the store the bigger of the two said to his friend ‘no no, let me do the twirly bit!’.

When I came back out they were gone, and I was a little sad. I never got to see them attempt whatever the twirly bit was. I feel like I’ve missed out.

Wherever you are giant dancing men, I hope your performance went well.