Donna in Hollywoodland

The blog from Los Angeles and Hollywood by Donna Grayson

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Volunteering on Saturday

Today I was signed-up to volunteer over at The Egyptian Theatre .

Grabbed a quick lunch over at Lickity Split . The usual - a turkey sandwich and soup.

I basically did alittle bit of everything volunteering today at The Egyptian, getting people to sign-up for the mailing list, passing out Theatre schedule and helping take tickets.

The series they were showing was "Technicolor".
The first movie was "Around the World in 80 Days" . 3 hours long and an intermission.
The second movie was "The Music Man".

I LUV The Music Man.
Back when I was a freshman in Highschool (1974-ish), this was the first big theatre production I was involved in.
I was on the "Props" Committee. I had to organize and place all the props for the show.
I ended up being on the Props Committee for all four productions in my freshman year.
It was my first real exposure to Theatre.

And The Music Man was the cause of my first High School Crush: The Senior who played Harold Hill.
So.. it brings back alot of memories to see the movie.
Its amazing how I remember all those songs.

I watched the first half of "Around the World in 80 Days" from the theatre. Then during intermission, I decided to sneak up to the balcony.
Its so beautiful to see a movie from the Egyptian balcony. Its just breath-taking.

Needless to say though, my radiation treatments are kicking in. No matter how much rest I get, I am sleepy.
I dosed on and off through out each movie. And I never, ever sleep during movies. I love movies so much.
But it was impossible. Try as I might.
The radiation treatments are just making me exhausted.
Well, only one week and one day left to go. I can hardly wait.
But nod off during each movie, yes, I did.

Since I was way up in the balcony, I did take a few pictures of the ceiling at The Egyptian .

Egyptian Theatre 3

Egyptian Theatre 2

Bad News Last Night

I got a phone call from my sister in Illinois on Friday night. My sister in Washington State has to have emergency surgery.
The sister in Illinois was panicked "She has colon cancer! I can't believe I have two sisters with cancer."

Saturday morning I called the sister in Washington. She is having emergency surgery on Sunday. There is a mass in her colon. They have not done a biopsy on it yet. She will not know if it is cancer or not until after the pathologist does his report. So she is trying to think positive, hoping that it is benign.

Needless to say, after talking to the Illinois Sister, I was very weirded out Friday night.
I had nightmares all night.
I was back living in my previous house. There were women going through the house smashing all my personal belongings.
My old roommate was having the locks changed. They were giving my cat away to someone else. They were making me a homeless person.
I was crying. It was terrifying.

So here comes up all those feelings of Victimization again.
I need to stay positive no matter what happens. I am almost done with my radiation treatments. I will be doing lots of holistic stuff for myself. I can't have an emotional upset right now, I don't want it to effect my immune system.
I must keep my Spirits up, and keep my immune system up - and remain positive.

Its weird how one day I can be looking forward to the future. And then the next day is complete emotional chaos.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Superficial Life

My blog is really getting to deep and spiritual and thoughtful lately.
I long for those days when I used to discuss Acting Auditions, Acting Classes, Celebrities and living life in Hollywood.

Blame it on the Breast Cancer. Not only did it change my life, it changed my blog.

When I was first diagnosed, I really thought about if I wanted to post the truth about my health. Or just ignore it and pretend on-line that the Breast Cancer problem did not exist.
I thought about turning the blog into one of those Celebrity Gossip Rag Blogs. You know, give Pink is the New Blog a run for his money. Ah, no, thats not me.

So I am glad I decided to keep posting about the Truth in my World. Its given me a chance to vent and express my frustrations.
And since I am averaging what I consider a large enough readership, then I must be doing something right.
I hope somewhere along the line, I'm helping other people with cancer or health problems, just by letting them know what I am going through.

That being said - I am looking forward to Decemeber 19th. My 47th Birthday and my last radiation treatment.
Later in the month, I go back to the Breast Surgeon for a check-up. Probably another check-up with the Radiation Doctor sometime.
Then, hopefully, a normal life until my 6 month check-up mammogram.

It will be so nice to be posting about all that Superficial stuff again. I can hardly wait.

I've made Big Superficial Plans:

1. New Acting Pics - the ones on the website still look like me, but I want New.

2. Contact Agent, go back out on Auditions (Yeah!) - I can't wait for the excitement that will bring again.

3. A Walking and Exercise Program - You know, I've belonged to 24 fitness for 4 years.
The monthly fee comes right out of my bank account. And I've only gone about 10 times. So I think its time I got my moneys worth.
Cinnamon the Cat will have to lounge on the couch by herself.

4. Loose 30 to 40 pounds. The weight I put on when I moved to Hollywood 5 years ago. Its coming off.

5. Once I lose the weight, I see alot of shopping and new clothes in my future.

6. Back to my Holistic vitamins and supplements and whatever weird alternative things I can come up with. Perhaps sitting in the lotus position over at The Bodhi Tree .

7. A more active social schedule. I belong to so many Los Angeles, Entertainment, Acting email lists. Do you think I go to any of their events ? Rarely. I usually get stuck in my Rut. Well, thats gonna change. I will become a Social Butterfly.

Oh, well, so much for all those Power of Now, living in the moment books. I am really looking forward to the future.
And even though most of it is pretty Shallow I think thats a good thing.

There is a time to be spiritual.
And a time to be superficial.
I have had enough deepness for the last 6 months of fighting Breast Cancer.
I am ready to be shallow.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Recommended Books on CD

Listening to spiritual books on CD is helping me get through my Radiation Treatments.
When I am at the office, doing something mindless, like filing or data entry - I just put on some headphones, and get lost in a feel-good meditation.

On the tapes below, the authors don't really express the same Christian beliefs that I believe in. They are all rather "new age". But there are alot of good ideas. I feel I can still use what they are teaching and apply my Christian Faith to the psychological truths they are expressing.

Living a Life of Inner Peace
by Eckhart Tolle
This is truly an inspiring live presentation. Tolle shows his humorous side, while still teaching deep spiritual truths. Again, he is teaching us to live in the moment, while being at peace. And he's so funny, I laughed out loud.

Health Journeys: A Meditation for Relaxation & Wellness
by Belleruth Naparstek
This was a good CD for me to listen to. The meditations are great for people dealing with health problems.
For example: "I thank my body for all its done for me in the past, and all it will do for me in the future."

Invisible Acts of Power : The Divine Energy of a Giving Heart
by Caroline Myss
Talks about Grace and Acts of Goodness, and how they relate to the body's seven chakras. Very interesting and though provoking real life stories.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Weekly Radiation Update

Now that we have switched over to the final "Boost" sessions of the radiation, I have more questions to ask.
So I asked one of the Technicians: "Now, that the machine is directly above me, and pointed straight down - how do I know that radiation isn't going directly into my heart?"

He very happily shared his knowledge with me.
The regular radiation is Protons, The Boost radiation is Electrons - or do I have that backwards ? (All I know is I failed chemistry in High School, so don't expect me to keep it straight.)

What I do know for sure is:
The regular radiation type goes all the way through - thats why they aim from the side, so it shoots through the breast.
The "boost" radiation type scatters and disperses pretty quickly - thats why they can aim it right at me.

So much for our chemistry lesson for the day.

I played the Game of "Getting the Doctors Attention" - since our last appointment did not go very well, and I was so upset because The Radiation Doctor refused to refer me to the lymphedema specialist.
I let it drop to the technicians that I "was at the end of my rope" and I wasn't going to finish my treatments. I told them how distressed I was about the swelling and the burning, and I just couldn't take it anymore.
(Those Acting Lessons are coming in handy these days.)

As I expected, the Radiation Doctor listened to what the Technicians told him - When he wouldn't listen to me when I said the same exact thing directly to his face.

Either that, or my regular Family Doctor told him that I had stopped by to be check by him because I wasn't happy with the way things were going.

Whatever - when I went in to one of my appointments, there was an envelope in my file. The technician gave to me, and it was the prescription for the lymphodema specialist.
Oh, thats all I wanted - now I was as happy as a Clam.

And, when it was time for my weekly appointment with the Radiation Doctor, he was kind and attentive. Total change from the last time I saw him.

I told him how happy I was to have my Prescription for the Lymphedema Specialist.
He said again "I really don't think you need it. The swelling will go away on its own."
I said "Yes, but I don't want the swelling to get worse. And I know if it doesn't help me physically, it will make me feel so much better psychologically."
Yes, I said that - I had to explain to a medically trained doctor the importance of my psychological health.

Maybe after this is over, someone will give me a university degree. (Theatre Arts, please - medicine is not my forte.)

I showed him my awful burn in my armpit and down my side.
The skin had been peeling off. It didn't look like skin - it looked like burnt marshmallow.
I said "This radiation is worse than the surgery. I swear, this is harder on me than the surgery was."

Then I said "You know this weekend, when I took off my bra ...."
The doctor finished my sentence for me: "Oh, did some skin stick to the bra ? Yes, that happens."

Oh ... my ... GAWD !!!!
Warn me why don't cha ?

The Doctor said "Well, we told you that you would burn. Its just like if you were on the beach, and you got a sunburn."

I replied "A sunburn is one layer of skin, and it flakes off white. This is like four layers of skin and its almost black. What beach do you sunbathe on ? Is it on Mercury - the planet closest to the sun ? Because thats the only beach I know of that would give you a sunburn like this."

He just looked at me after that response.

We went over my other symptoms. Mainly being tired. I told him that I only go out on the weekends, and try to do things where I am sitting down so I don't get worn out. And that I have pretty much been staying home after work because weekdays are when
I am the most tired.
The Nurse said "You are tired just because you are driving back and forth."
I looked her straight in the eye and said "No, its because you are putting Radiation in my body."
The doctor just looked at the nurse. I think he finally figured out that you can't pull crap over on me.

We went over my schedule. 2 more "Boosts" followed by 7 more days of regular Radiation.
They swear I will not burn any more. That the swelling won't get worse. That all that baby skin thats exposed after the peeling will not be hurt from the radiation.
"If I have any more problems, I will get feisty. I will not be a good patient" I told him.
The nurse said "Will I have to get in between the two of you and break up a fight ?"
"Yes, you will." I said.

We counted it out all on the calendar.
My last Radiation Treatment is December 19.
"Oh, No - thats my Birthday ! Not my birthday !" I exclaimed.

The Doctor and Nurse looked at my chart, and laughed. Yep, thats my birthday.

Well, I guess on Dec 19 - I will have more than one reason to celebrate.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Never Doing Nothing

I always find it interesting when I get into the office on a Monday, and as I am in the lunchroom getting my half-caf coffee, and I make the Monday Morning Greetings.

"Hi, Good Morning" I'll say.
"Good Morning", They Say back.

"So did you have a good weekend?" I ask.
"Aahhh, it was okay" They say.

"Did you do anything interesting?" I ask.
"Nah, just laid around the house. Nothing great." They say.

"So how was yours?" They will ask me back.
"Oh, it was okay." I will respond. Leaving out a ton of information because I don't want Them to know that I usually have really fun and fulfilling weekends.

I could say "Oh, I did some volunteer work, I saw some great movies, I read a really good book, I had dinner at a great restaurant, I went out for coffee, I went to church on Sunday and the sermon was really good, I updated my website, I did some Meditation, and I played with the Cat."
(Yes, all this... while finishing up the battle with Breast Cancer.)

But I just don't want it to look like I am having to much fun, when their life seems so boring. So I don't mention it.

I know I'm not saving the World, or curing diseases ... but at least I am doing Something.

And then theres the other thing, I don't understand why people spend their lives doing Nothing.
Especially people who live in a big city like Los Angeles - the world is right outside our door practically.

Frankly, my life is not my Job. I like my Job. But its main function is to allow me to have some money to do some of the things I really enjoy.
So when I am not at my job .... I am doing some else.
Not Nothing.

Years ago, I had friend who I would run into often at church events. I would ask her: "So what have you been up to lately?"
And she would always say, without fail: "Oh, Nothing."

How can you do "Nothing" ?
Do you lie on your couch and stare at the ceiling?
Well thats still something.
If you vegetate in front of the TV set... thats still something.

I came to the conclusion that she really wasn't doing Nothing.
Her opinion of her Life, and the things that she did, was that they were all Nothing.

I guess this is all starting to hit home, as I am trying to learn to Meditate. And trying to Pray more.
I am still reading the book "Taking Jesus Seriously - Buddhist Meditations for Christians" by John Cowan.

I thought that since I like to Do so much, and am always busy doing Something - it would be a good thing for me to slow down and meditate.
I thought that Meditation would be doing Nothing.
And the more I try to Meditate, I realize it is doing Something.
Being quiet and Still and listening for Gods voice, it a really difficult Something to do.

And it makes me more aware of how precious each moment of life is.
And that I don't want to ever do Nothing.
I always want to be doing Something.

Pictures from the Lake Shrine

The lyrics of the song we sang in church yesterday :
There is a longing in our hearts, O Lord
for you to reveal yourself to us
There is a longing in our hearts for love
we only find in you, our God.

If you want to see all the pictures I took of the Lake Shrine on Sunset Blvd in Malibu yesterday, just go ahead and click :
Lake Shrine Pictures

My favs:
Lake Shrine Malibu 11

Lake Shrine Malibu 05

Ghandi's Ashes

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A Spiritual Sunday

The drive east on Sunset Blvd, and north on Pacific Coast Highway into Malibu , was windy, cold and clear.
I've been meaning to spend a day in Malibu for some time now.
I ended up getting about 2/3 done, of what I wanted to do.

First, before I left my place in East Hollywood, the Devil tried to stop me....

... by making my toilet over-flow.

There's nothing like trying to get dressed and out the door for church, and having your toilet over-flow.
So that meant I was running really late.
And it took an hour to drive into Malibu.

My first stop didn't get done. I had wanted to visit The Malibu Vineyard .
But after the toilet incident, and the long drive, I was almost an entire hour late.
Well, at least I found the building.
Does it count as "Church on Sunday" if you just drive past the building ?

So I drove across PCH, and got a coffee at Diedrich coffee .
That place was packed, with a long line. I did manage to find a seat so I could have my Decaf and Blueberry Muffin in comfort.

I started to read Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott.

After my coffee and reading, I headed back over across PCH and went to the 12:30 Mass at Our Lady of Malibu .
Its a pretty little church. The Mass was a modern traditional.
I haven't been to Catholic Mass in a long time. Its more confusing to me now, because sometimes people sit, and sometimes they kneel. But there are parts where people seem to be doing their own thing. I don't get it.

After Mass, I headed south on PCH, and not long after turning left on Sunset, there is The Lake Shrine .
You can walk around, and look at all the different statues and the beautiful landscaping. Some of Ghandi's ashes are buried there.
It is very peaceful, and a wonderful place to pray and meditate.

The major rule there is that you keep quiet, and aren't to loud as to disturb people who are praying or meditating.
Well, there were so many people there with digital cameras and camera phones. More people with cameras than people who were trying to pray.
(I will post my pictures sometime in the next few days.)

All in All though, it was a beautiful afternoon spent there.
Very peaceful and relaxing.

But soon enough, I was headed back east on Sunset - back to the craziness of the City.


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