Entry #8: BONUS BLOG: Cancer Sparkle

One of the great rules of theatre is never work with kids or animals. In real life, this portion of my experience included both.

Immediately after my appointment with Dr. Radio, I went to babysit on the Upper East Side (as indicated in this vlog), and I called five of my closest friends (including my sister), to discuss the appointment.

After cleaning this incredible uptown apartment—washing dishes, making beds, stuffing Barbies back into their dream houses—I had to complete my final task before after-school pick-up: walking Sparkle. Sparkle, the dog.

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This is not the real Sparkle, but I promise, they are equally adorable.

Sparkle is the whitest creature I’ve ever seen. She looks like a pom-pom with gorgeous sparkly black eyes. She is a bitch in the truest sense of the word.

Every time I walked Sparkle, she would exit the lobby of her building prancing like a princess, then dug her heels into the pavement, making me look like moron as I tugged against two pounds of fluff. My whole body weight was thrown into yanking on a pink glitter leash in the middle of 59th street, and Sparkle the chipmunk-sized glamour dog didn’t move an inch.

People would point and stare and laugh. The doormen would come outside just to watch the battle ensue. No joke.

Now, on this day, I hadn’t been thinking about Sparkle. I’d been thinking about cancer, and talking to Sam (an expert in the field). When we hung up the phone, I realized there was no one else to call. I was alone with my thoughts and broke down into fits of sobs—heaving, hysterical fits of crying. I braced myself against the wall, because I was crying so hard, and when I looked down at my feet, guess who was looking up at me with her big black eyes?

Animals can be so intuitive in such moments, and the look on Sparkle’s face had such a clear message. And that message was this, “Bitch. Stop crying and take me for my walk.”

So, I pulled my shit together and did exactly that. And you know what? Sparkle behaved just as she always did. She rammed her fucking paws into the sidewalk and refused to budge and I cursed the people of the Upper East Side for creating a world where even the dogs are spoiled brats.

Note: Two days later, I was let go from this job. They wanted someone who could commit to five days a week, and I only had two open. So, Sparkle and I parted ways.

Why do I tell you this?

Because even when you have cancer, you still have to walk the dog. You still have to make money, and do the dishes, and that’s actually a good thing. Sparkle didn’t feel sorry for me. She didn’t tell me I should slow down, or ask how I was feeling, or tell me how strong I was or expect anything less from me than she had come to expect.

At the time, I would have appreciated a little more compassion; but now, after months of pointed questions…

"How ARE you?”

“How are you feeling?”

and stunning revelations

“You’re looking like your old self!"

"I’m starting to see that Jacey sparkle again."

I've come to realize that normal--laundry and taking out the trash--normal is a gift.


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