I was diagnosed as bipolar about 11 years ago, but I think THEY got it all wrong. I’m not bipolar….its  my life that is bipolar. I’m just a cute little cowgirl hanging on for dear life. Literally.

This last month has been perhaps the busiest month  I’ve ever had…in both good  or evil ways. Evil mostly won. But lets review:

  • I had 12 sessions of radiation on the lower half of my face and neck, in hopes of blasting away some major melanoma cancer which made me look  like Jay Leno on steroids with a chin so large it could knock cars off the  freeway. Did I also mention I  had the absolute worst, most severe “sunburn” from the radiation which made people’s head swivel in horror as I walked by them in grocery stores. For someone who is terribly shy (except on the internet), it was humiliating. And we won’t even get into how bad the inside of my mouth was. Raw. Burned. No saliva. Some creeping gray crud growing on my teeth.  Yes, the treatment did shrink down the cancer quite a bit, but that was when I basically stopped eating.
  • The cool cancer diet! Whee! When in my life have I ever felt like not eating.  Since this has all started I have lost just about 30 pounds. Just think, 30 pounds without being humiliated by Bob and Jillian  on “The Biggest Loser” . But yes, I do look like a totally different person now and mostly just drink  protein shakes (ensure, boost) these days but only after I was  sent to a nutritionist for my bad behaviour.
  • School. This was one of the upsies. During a 5 month period of some serious ass cancer treatment, I managed to only miss two days of art classes. I must like totally be like the girl version of “Iron Man” fercrissakes. I kept up with about 90% of my homework. Did final pieces  for both of my classes. And best of all, bonded with my teacher, who I think liked my work better than I thought initially.  On the last day of my class, we had to present our finals in class. She asked me if I would feel comfortable mentioning my illness, since I’m sure the Art Glee Club was probably anxiously wondering about that freakishly weird red chinned woman. But I did  get a round of applause after my  “Art Heals” speech. I haven’t heard what my grade is yet for my 2 classes, but you know what? I don’t care. I just wanted to take the college art classes I always wanted to take when I was younger. Sort of like a bucket list item. The other final project for my second art class? My one woman art show at the library across the street. They don’t promote or hang themselves, ya know!
  • Now this was definitely a mixture of upsies and downsies, but one HUGE UPSIE!! Yay! Who knew I was even capable of one at this point? I got an e-mail from a woman I used to work with at the newspaper where I had been a graphic artist 11 years ago.  She wanted to do a story about me and my upcoming art show.  What? Really? Me? I’ll take any form of attention. Sure! So we sent up an appointment the Wednesday before school ended. This seemed awfully suspect since a certain person I had been in love with did  freelance writing at this place.  And sure enough he called and asked if the writer had called. I verified and thanked him. I also asked him to come to my art show opening. He’s never seen any of  my work. He said he was picking up his son from college down south but would “try” to make it.
  • I’ve  been coughing for over a month now. I had my first chemo treatment the day before the last day of school. But by Wednesday, I was coughing so hard I could barely catch my breath.  “911—-what is your emergency?” Yup, I ended up in the hospital for 2 1/2 days, via ambulance.  No diagnosis. It seems that when you have cancer, that is all you’re capable of having. I was all antsy in the hospital too, since Guardcat was home alone, probably watching cat porn and eating chocolate.  I also had my newspaper interview coming up the next freaking day. I also had to be photographed for the article. PLUS I was originally supposed to have my chemotherapy port put in on Friday, but then they suddenly moved it up two days. Can you say STRESS, witty?
  • So I finally got the port put in. Got sent home and had the absolute worst pain ever from my continuing cough. Some of my time line might be wrong, but I did get through the interview. I had a nice photo shoot out on my porch. Being a totally vain Aquarian I was worried about how haggard and tired and big-chinned I looked. The photo did come out the best it possibly could. Thanks Mike.
  • More coughing followed. First chemo following Monday. First 1/2 day was fine, but oy, the pain from the coughing and something in that pharmaceutical concoction I slurped up through tubes for 6 hours went terribly awry. I was incredibly weak. I could barely get up. So… “911—-what is your emergency?”. Yes, I went back to the hospital. Unlike the first time when I was just wheeled into the ER, this time I had to wait for over 5 hours in an overcrowded outer waiting room with winos, screaming babies,and  a guy who threatened to come back with a glock and kill everyone.
  • Fortunately this time, when they gave me oxygen treatments, and truly listened to my crackling lungs (even I could hear them…without a stethoscope), someone really intelligent said, “This girl has pneumonia!” And yes, it was fucking  true. Yay!  So I stayed in 3 days and got lots of treatments and snorted enough oxygen to float several SUV’s over Lindsey Lohan’s head, just to freak her out.

OMG, I totally forgot the most important thing! I knew these bullets were  out of order since I’m on a lot of drugs at the moment.

During all this pharmaceutical/medical chaos, I managed to have my most successful art show ever. On May 13th I still wasn’t feeling real terrific. I had made a half-hearted attempt to go buy a new outfit for my show (and also because none of my clothes fit anymore). I just couldn’t. Too tired, so I came home for a brief nap before my art show. Just a cat nap really. My show started at 5 p.m. Guess what time I woke up? 5:02 p.m. YIKES!!!!  I was laying on my couch in my underwear and a tee-shirt, no make up. Nothing. The You-Tube video of me running around like an insane person grabbing clothes and throwing them in the air probably would have been pretty hilarious….if it existed. Fortunately, as mentioned somewhere, my show was directly across the street, so I was practically sprinting over when I see my aunt walking towards me in great distress. She’s all like “Honey, we were so worried about you. Are you ok?” I was mainly trying to think up some clever response for being late for my own show.

Once there, the show was wonderful though. People were very nice about my lateness, saying it was fashionable to be late to your own show…..(especially if you’re a drugged up New York artist). I also had the best crowd ever (over  30 people-WOW!!). and the best part, people walking towards me with open checkbooks (I sold 5 paintings and one photograph). I’m really not kidding about being drugged up so my friend “P” served as my “agent” keeping track of my sales and handing me checks. We even had two women who wanted the same painting, but it was first come, first serve, baby.

The show finally started winding down around 7:20 and when me and my  homies gathered in the parking lot, they insisted on taking me out to  the one and only Mexican restaurant in the Village. And then who comes driving up at 7:30? Married Guy and his son. I couldn’t believe it. I haven’t seen my favorite little kidlet since he was 12. He’s 18 now. And still a cutie! So I audaciously made my friends wait and took Married Guy and kidlet on their own private tour of my show.   It felt really good to let him see how much I have progressed in the last 5 years. He seemed to like my work. But the most important thing….I was happy with my work. There is certainly a first for everything.

Me and one of my art idols Frida Kahlo at the restaurant afterwards

39 Responses to “Upsy-Downsy-Upsy-Splat”

  1. Poolie Says:

    You have certainly been through a lot, Witty. I admire you more than you will ever know!

  2. Anna Says:

    Are you getting it on with one of the paramedics, witty? I think we should be told. There seems a lot of lying around flat on your back in your nightie. Hmmm.

  3. goatbarnwitch Says:

    Wow, Iron Artist is on the loose in NY so watch out! Congrats on the sucessful show. I am so inspired by your tenacity in getting through so much under such crazy circumstances-you ROCK

  4. catsoul Says:

    Witty I am so proud of you and admire your strength. Keep healing, keep up that “witty” humor of yours and for damn sake keep writing here. Take care. =^..^=

  5. artgnome Says:

    Hope those lungs are healing up and that you are regaining your strength! Let me know of the next show now that I am done with school and have a more open schedule, or just when can I come and have a visit with you? I had a solo show here and sold just one painting to one of my favorite professors. I love how well your work is received and how much it sells! Good on you, Iron Woman!

  6. stepfordtart Says:

    You’re just TOO fabulous, you know that? Too. Fucking. Fabulous. ((squeeeeeeeze)) s x

  7. LA Says:

    My head is whirling over that amazing entry. How well you’re coping! On one hand I want to come up there, scoop you up, and after buying you some new bitty little size 0 clothes, take you back here, tuck you up on my couch and nurse/mom/friend you until you are thoroughly rested and full to the brim with TLC. On the other hand I just want to gape stupidly while watching a true super hero kick an unfair world’s ass. You’re a champ, Witty. ~LA

  8. Beth Says:

    You’re the bestest ever!

  9. DanjerusKurves Says:

    My last place of employment could have been called Cancer Central because of the number of employees who had or were dealing with cancer and I have to say … honestly, you are handling this at such a higher level than any one of them. It’s not that I mean to criticise, it affects everybody differently and who knows maybe I’d be one of the whiney cry babies, but you, YOU are just amazing in your strength and humour and well, hell, just everything about you!!

  10. freshhell Says:

    Goodness. I think you deserve a 20% off discount at the hospital now. Or a coupon for free chocolate for life. Something like that. Whew.

    But, congrats on selling so many paintings! Is that barn still life still available or did some one snatch it up?

  11. awittykitty Says:

    Sorry Freshhell, the barn still life was the fastest thing I ever sold. I sold it about a week or two after I painted it in January. I sold a collage from my show today. Some woman called requesting it. Yay!

  12. freshhell Says:

    I figured as much. It was lovely. If you do something similar in the future will you let me know?

  13. SJAT Says:

    Kitty, I’m so impressed and damn proud of how you handle things. It often serves as a model for how I should handle my considerably lesser problems. I’m so glad you’re getting ups in there and that some of them are REAL ups. Love and pride from across the pond…

  14. teranika Says:

    Way to go, witty. Congratulations on your awesome show, and your otherwise general awesomeness. I also hope that the pneumonia is winding down. eeeck.

  15. Kungfukitten Says:

    I hope you keep healing and start to feel better and better. I’m glad your art show went so well. You need to start raising the prices on your art because it’s super good and you are all famous and stuff now. I wish I could give you a great big gentle hug. (((Witty)))

  16. Bluey Says:

    I have nothing but admiration for you witty. You are an example to absolutely everyone. And so talented. I am thinking of you and hoping you are feeling better.

  17. Beth Says:

    I’m thinking of you witty, and wonder how you’re doing. Haven’t heard from you in a couple weeks. 😦

  18. Glynis Says:

    I was just checking Witty’s facebook page.

    She passed away Saturday morning, June 26th.

    According to her FB page, “TENATIVE calling hours, Wednesday Morning at Kruger’s Funeral Home in Mattyday. there will be a obituary in the PS on Tuesday with the final arrangements.”

  19. betty Says:

    thank you, glynis. I can’t believe she’s really gone 😦

  20. poolagirl Says:

    Farewell, my friend. I am honored to have known you. Although we never met, we exchanged emails and a few phone calls. I am honored to have one of your pieces hanging on my wall. I am looking at it right now knowing that I will have a piece of you forever.

  21. SJAT Says:

    Goodbye Witty. You will be missed. I can’t get so far to the funeral, but while I’m across the pond, my spirit will be there.

  22. Rosie Says:

    Goodbye Witty, I wish that I had had a chance to meet you. I am glad that this life’s struggle is over, and I hope that the next lifetime will be shining and wonderful.

  23. Elizabeth Says:

    Love you, witty.

  24. golfwidow Says:

    I miss you.

  25. Seacreature Says:

    Oh…my… What a shock. I’m totally sitting at my desk bawling right now. You were such a beautiful and talented soul, Witty. Thank you for all your kind and understanding words to me, and most of all, thank you for sharing through your writing. I learned a lot from you. I love you and hope that you are very happy now.

  26. Kungfukitten Says:

    I miss her so much. I am happy I bought one of her paintings a couple months ago. Here’s the link to the funeral home obit and guestbook. There are also pictures of Witty (Barb) posted:

  27. artgnome Says:

    I still miss you, the wittiest of all kitties, the wisest of artistic writers and takers of self portrait. Out of all my years on the internet, my dear, you were one of the best highlights and the web seems saggy and darker without all your color and humor. I miss you so much. I hope I get to see you again. xoxoxoxoxo

  28. Miss Hiss Says:

    You were one in a million, witticakes. I still can’t believe you’re gone, I hate it that it all ended this way and I miss you so much. Love always, R & J and the critters xxx

  29. Elizabeth Says:

    I miss you so much.

  30. Julie Says:

    I hate that you’re gone. I miss you terribly, too. You are one of the most intelligent, interesting and hilarious people I’ve ever discovered on the internet. *sigh*

  31. Elizabeth Says:

    I miss witty terribly too. I think about her all the time. Hope she’s in a better place, painting up a storm!

  32. Miss Hiss Says:

    Thinking about you now and always. Love, R xxx

  33. Miss Hiss Says:

    Happy birthday, witticakes. I miss you so much. x

  34. Miss Hiss Says:

    Thinking of you every day, witty, x

  35. Julie Says:

    Thought of you today… It makes me so sad that you are not with us anymore.

  36. scotvalkyrie Says:

    I miss you, lady.

  37. miss hiss Says:

    I thought of you on your birthday the other day — as I think of you every day. Still missing you so very much, witty. x

  38. Julie Says:

    Hi Witty… Still missing you over here, too.

  39. Natalie Says:

    Thinking of Witty today………..

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