Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The hazing's a bitch

You want to cause a ruckus at an event? Wear a t-shirt with swear words on it. When I was in college, I was on the student activities funding committee... I know - sounds like a ton of fun. We were charged with giving out hundreds of thousands of dollars to student organizations. We read dozens of grant proposals, and in a two week long marathon, we heard proposals and made recommendations. And got a little slap happy. After groups would leave after making their sometimes ridiculous proposals (I'm sorry, but I am SO not giving the Young Republicans 50 grand for Charlton Heston to come and spew his garbage. That bitch is an alum. Get him to come for free) we would talk amongst ourselves...

"Well, when we fuck this group up the ass and deny most of their proposal, will we do it with a little lube or no lube?"

Answer: No lube. Denied.

We got so feisty and we had bonded so much, we made t-shirts to wear at our presentation to the student government. "SAFB: Free the money bitches!"

You would have thought we spun those hefty tees ourselves from looms of gold. Pictures in the paper with BITCHES splayed prominently across my (unbeknown st to me cancer growing) chest.

It began a long history of me and inappropriate words in print.

So, as I grow older and "ahem" wiser... it came time to design a t-shirt for the Atlanta contingent of the Young Survival Coalition to wear at our annual conference. A few women had joked about never being in a sorority. Well, drawing on my sorority knowledge as well, I made up t-shirts with big greek letters on the front standing for Atlanta Young Survivors.

And on the back?

Initiation Sucks and the Hazing's a Bitch.
But this sisterhood is for life.

Never mind the cheesy sisterhood closer... it was all about the naughty words. We wore these bad boys to the conference - all 12 of us, and again - looms of gold.

It's like Beevis and Butthead...
hu hu hu. You said "sucks."

hu hu "and bitch"

I recently returned from the 8th Annual Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer. Famous t-shirt aside, it was a great conference. But different. Last year I was mostly alone and just getting into this "Cancer" thing. I took tons of notes, I soaked it all up. This year, I shepherded a dozen women from Atlanta. I didn't learn as much as I made sure the people I helped bring were getting something out of it. I met up with "cancer friends" who I now see regularly at these things. Instead of it being this whole world I had only discovered, it was a bit like coming back to your hometown for a reunion. Well, one full of people you actually like, that is.

Check us out, bitches!!!

Friday, February 22, 2008


When I was on strike and I had a lot of time on my hands, I decided to take on some more volunteer work. See, when I was diagnosed, I didn't do any "support" stuff. I did go online at and chatted in a chat room. But other than a couple very wonderful women who emailed me through my initial steps, I didn't do support groups, go to Gilda's club, contact Komen, race or make strides for anything. I just did my thing.

And upon reflection, it was pretty fucking isolating. I mean, I lived 3 hours from where I got treated. I didn't have close friends anywhere near me. In fact, I didn't even have a friend I could call where I lived. I knew no one who had had breast cancer - no one I knew well, that is. And I sure as hell didn't have any exposure to anyone my age with breast cancer.

I had my husband. And my family. Well, most of them, at least. And I had a good friend who had recently finished treatment for lymphoma. Both he and my aunt were good for commiserating about chemo. Neither of them had disfiguring surgery. Or hormonal therapy for 5 years. On the whole, I didn't really have a "community" belong to - people to connect with. Nothing.

And I never realized how much I needed that until I finished treatment. Ironic, huh?

So as I get further and further out from treatment, it's occurred to me how much I want to help other people along the path. So I've been doing that in numerous ways... one of them is currently my favorite way to volunteer.

I am now a trained Y-Me peer hotline counselor. What? Well, let's say you have breast cancer. Or think you might. Or have a friend who does. And you have no one to talk to. You go online and search for breast cancer support. You might find the Y-Me website. Y-Me is the oldest breast cancer support organization in existence. Anyway, you see on their site that you can call this hotline anytime, 24-7 and speak to a breast cancer survivor. So you pick up your phone and call 1-800-221-2141 and...

"Hi, this is Courtney. How can I help you?"

Insert imaginary conversation here.

So yeah. I flew to Chicago where they trained me in everything from basic cancer knowledge to how to deal with crank callers. I am currently in the process of setting up my home network to accept calls via VOIP. As in, I sit in my jammies and answer calls through my computer.

Yep, that's right. Volunteering from your house. In your yoga pants.
Helping people from the comfort of your own home.

Fan - freaking - tastic.

So if you have breast cancer and need help, give us a call. I just may be on the other line.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why, oh why do I open my big mouth?

I know, I know... it's a question you've been asking yourself now for years.
Even in grade school, when I got straight A's in subjects such as spelling and handwriting, I got 2s and 3s (scale of 1-4) on effort and conduct.
In short, I'm a slacker with a big mouth. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
So what's the most recent incident? Well, when I was at the YSC conference, someone was talking about the Tour de Pink, a 200 mile bike ride from Hershey, PA to New York City. It's the Young Survival Coalition's annual event to raise funds and awareness for young women with breast cancer. Sounds cool, I said. Wow - 200 miles.
Shit, I'll do it! Sign me up.
Never mind the fact I haven't been on a bike since I got my driver's license. Or that I'm not in great shape. Or that I have a serious problem with full body spandex, for charity or otherwise. Sure, let's do it.
So I'm going to ride 200 miles on a bike. Over "rolling hills." In cycling shorts.
I'm a fucking moron. Seriously. I should have jumped from another plan if I wanted to prove anything else.
Thankfully, I'm not the only one. I'll be one of 150 riders. Two of which will be my husband and my father. I know, a collective sigh of cuteness for my daddy riding with me. My dad's into cycling. He'll be fine. Alan has a bike we bought when we first moved back to the states.
He's ridden it 4 times in 4 years.
But Alan's super excited. I think it's just an excuse for more toys. Shoes and clippy things and jerseys, oh my!
So Alan and I recently went out and purchased two road bikes They are much fancier than my schwinn 10-speed. We bought them on the one day it snowed in Atlanta. And Alan insisted that we put on hats and gloves and ride in freezing cold.
Great. This will be so fun.
Will there be drinks at this thing?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Strike's Over!!!!

So.... I'm back to work. The strike's over. I should be happy, right? Well, I am. Yes, yes, I am. But I can't help feeling this overwhelming - hmm, I don't know. Anger, maybe? Anger because we were on strike for so long for a deal that wasn't all that great. Anger because I'm back to working with and for people who scabbed while I spent my savings and went into debt. Anger because there was a clause about protecting daytime jobs that we lobbied for that wasn't included in the final deal.

So yeah, I guess I'm still angry. Shut up, Courtney! At least you have a job!! Well, sure... for now. Because coming back to work now is a different story. It's a land where "the strike taught us we don't need as many people." and "expect changes." and "if anyone thinks of giving your (scabbing) headwriters grief, you might as well leave. They saved the show."

Well, I guess you can imagine it's not all sunshine and rainbows back at work. Things are tense. And I've only been back a few days. There's drama. And the one thing I LOVED about my job before was that there was very limited drama... off the screen that is.

I found I've lost some of my love of the genre. See, one of the arguments for scabbing is that a prolonged break would kill soap operas. That is they went off the air for 3 months, no one would come back.

I was sort of that girl. While on strike, I didn't watch the show. That would be part of what I'm paid for. No work, no watch. And it's hard to catch up. Hard to care about stories that played out without my involvement. In a way, that makes me like any other viewer.

On the flip side, I'm glad to get a paycheck. But maybe part of the problem is that in the past few months I've realized just how ridiculous my job is. Fuck, I write for soap operas. Not exactly changing the world, you know? So maybe my healthy respect for my profession has tarnished a little.

Maybe I need to stop sounding like a little bitch. And get back to work.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Happy Cancerversary to me!

Where's my cake? I love me some cake. Exactly 2 years ago today I was diagnosed with cancer. How am I celebrating said important day, you ask? Well, I'm trying to catch up on the tons of scripts and shows that someone else wrote while I was on strike. I'm cleaning up my house. I'm doing some laundry.

Business as usual.

How fucking great is that?

Since my last cancerversary, things have been pretty up and down in cancerland. I've lost people. I've celebrated triumphs. I've run the gamut of emotions. But if anything could describe this past year, it might be that I began my transition from my own cancer experience to guiding the way for others. And with each cancerversary, I celebrate. For me and for them.

Again, cake.... anyone? Anyone?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Super Tuesday

Dude, rarely in Georgia do I feel like I'm in the mecca of political happenings - the hotbed of the democratic process, if you will. But today? Today was a great day. Today I stood in line with my neighbors and took part in the political process. Today I waited for almost an hour to touch that screen and have my say. Today, I stood with people of all colors, languages and backgrounds - I live in what is commonly referred to as an "up and coming" or "diverse" district. We stood there and not once did I hear someone bitch about the wait. Or about needing to get back to their job/kids/life. We had a job to do.

So I cast my vote And collected the "I'm a Georgia Voter" sticker. Here in Georgia, the sticker has a little peach on it. And wore it proudly in a way I never wear my Ash Wednesday Catholic ashes.

And this evening, as I grabbed some popcorn and watched "the best political team on television," I smiled. As Georgia closed their polls 1 hour before any of the other states, I watched as Wolf and Lou and Anderson (yum!) broke down my state, county by county. I held a certain amount of pride as they analyzed Georgia for an hour. And when they put up that Georgia map and talked about the 1400 votes just received from a district in Cobb County, I was satisfied that I had done my part.

Because in all this politics... and sure, there's a lot of bullshit too , it all comes down to this.

Standing in line with my neighbor, doing our civic duty. One by one.

No matter who you vote for, you can't say it doesn't matter. You can't say it's not important. You can't say it doesn't count. Not this year.

And that feels pretty damn good.

Dance Dance Party Party

Okay, cuz I either
a. Don't have enough to do
b. Have too much time on my hands
c. Spend too much time listening to the 80s and 90s channels on XM radio

I'm embarking on a new adventure.

It's called Dance Dance Party Party

It was originally started in New York by a couple of kick ass twinkies. A friend of mine saw it in a magazine and we contacted them and, VOILA! We are starting the official DDPP chapter this month in Atlanta.

I know, kinda of a crazy name, but it’s a cheap and easy chance for women to get together and break it down. Think the all the fun of dancing with your girlfriends at a club minus the steep cover and sleazy guys bumping and grinding on you. Seriously, just put on some music and go to town. Roger Rabbit anyone? Electric Slide? Whatever!

"What is this again? I don't get it."

Well, for $5 on a Sunday afternoon, chicks get together and dance their asses off. No, it's not a “class.” No instruction, just great music and your own personal rhythm. Any woman is welcome. You can have zero “dance experience” or you can do triple pirouettes in the corner. Each session, someone else will dj... imagine itunes playlists full of your favorite old school hits. Here's an example playlist...

Yes, that IS the song from the end of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

This is totally something that’s sweeping the country right now – just look at all the other locations!

The first party is February 17th at Gotta Dance Atlanta. MARK YOUR CALENDARS! Then run, do not walk to your email contact list and pass it on to anyone you know!!!

If you don't live in the ATL, go to the site and see if there's a DDPP near you. If not, contact the ladies in New York and start your own.

Leg Warmers and Slap Bracelets optional.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Politics make me hot.

Anyone who's known me long enough knows I dig on politics. I get jazzed about the speeches, the debating, the ass kicking. Growing up, I never saw a campaign I didn't like. In the sixth grade, I ran as Michael Dukakis in our mock presidential debates. In our school wide vote, the Duke got his ass kicked. But not in the sixth grade. The Duke in '88, baby.

In high school, despite running for class and student body president every year (and getting repeatedly beaten by some drunken boy), I was voted "Most Likely to become President." How's that for irony? Apparently, my class felt that regular losses would better prepare me for a future in politics.

During the infamous election of 2000, I was on cruise ships, desperately clutching my donkey beanie baby a friend had sent me. Instead of socializing in the piano bar, I sat in front of the casino television... waiting up for hours. We all know how that ended.

4 years later, I told my then new husband that there was no way I could get it on after election night. We had spent hours in front of CNN. I just wasn't in the mood. Nothing's a cock block more than a Bush in office.

In my cancer journey, it was my first trip to the National Breast Cancer Coalition's Advocacy weekend in D.C. where I realized I could combine breast cancer AND politics. I came home so fired up I was burning.

This year, Alan knows that a broadcast debate means no cuddles on the couch, no "quality time." Quality time means debating the issues. Watching the pundits. Occasionally throwing something or yelling at the screen like it's the Super Bowl. Explaining to my fiscally conservative husband that yes, taxes are necessary. And if hates them so much, he can move back to England and pay even more.

So, when I heard that Bill "Slick Willy" Clinton was speaking only 45 minutes from my house, I had to go. Even if no one else could go with me. I drove by myself. I spent 20 minutes parking. I waited in line outside - in what could only be described as a New Kids on the Block concert circa 1989. (okay, so it could be described differently, but that's now how I saw it.) Seriously, SWARMS of people. A line around the building. I struggle to believe that Kennesaw State University ever had that kind of crowd for a basketball game.

I actually got a seat and waited for the former President to speak. And he did. He looked old. I wondered about that "charisma" everyone talks about. Then again, sitting behind a desk in the Oval office would make almost anyone hot. The best part of the evening? When he stopped for a beat and said,

"You know, it's easy to get distracted when you're President."

Snicker, snicker.

Bill spent a lot of time talking about health care. And the ideas made sense. Electronic records saving billions of dollars. Opening the congressional health plan to everyone. I liked that, too.

Above all, I got fired up. About the ability of people to make a difference. About "change"... or whatever that means. It made me want to run out and run for office myself. And when the rally was over, I talked to members of the Hillary staff. (A staff that did not email once during the next few days even after I volunteered to help... hmmm) I chatted as throngs of people waited for a quick word with Willie. Like he was a fucking rock star.

Cuz you know what? Even now, even a little too old, tired... Bill had something. I have had many conversations with my father about "poor Monica" and how she must have been taken advantage of. That's what he thought. Then I told him if the President gave me the opportunity to get on my knees in the Oval office, I'd be running under the desk so fast, Bill wouldn't have time to unzip his pants.

My father was mortified.

Tee hee.

What can I say? Politics get me hot.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Why We Write...

I've had some time to reflect on my work in the months that I haven't had any. In my constant pursuit to do what I can from my tiny little corner of the world, I submitted this piece to Why We Write, a blog started to rally the troups in the union and beyond. Every day, a different (and usually more important) writer is featured with their take on why we do this whole crazy thing and why it's worth it. Me, of course, because I have a pretty strong opinion on my union, I had to submit something involving the "big C."

Oh, for fuck's sake, you say. Does EVERYTHING have to be about cancer?

Well, if you're going to have that attitude, you should probably stop reading this cancer blog.

Besides, what doesn't scream "Norma Rae union propaganda" like telling the poor story of a woung woman with cancer.

I am SO not done playing this card.

Okay, so long story short, Why We Write published my essay today. I strongly encourage you to check out the site and read all the other essays. If you're too lazy, here's mine... (ps, yeah yeah, I know they spelled my name wrong. I'm over it.)

Number 36

Today’s piece is written by Courtney Bulger, a writer on “All My Children.” Her blog can be found at

I never thought of being a writer. When I was young and blissfully ignorant, I thought I was going to be a star on Broadway. After all, I did have the lead in the high school production of “Oklahoma!” I attended college and found that acting wasn’t nearly as interesting as being in charge. Besides, I wanted to eat cheeseburgers and I didn’t want to spend my life always looking for a job. So I did production. Then I graduated. I worked on cruise ships. I was Julie McCoy. I can call one mean game of bingo. When I moved back to the real world, it was time to be an adult. Sort of. A very wise woman said to me, “You know, I do this writing thing. You might be good at it. Why don’t you give it a try?” So I did. I worked on soap opera scenes late at night after a long day of selling cars. Yep, I sold cars. After all, my resume of ass kicker and professional partier wasn’t exactly 9-5 material.

I wrote scenes about someone coming back from the dead, someone in a coma, someone stealing someone’s baby… you know – soap opera stuff. And after each draft, I would send it off to this very smart woman who would in turn tear it to shreds. More red than my current bank account. And I’d try it again. And again. Until little by little, I got better. Good enough to show people. And not to embarrass her. And I realized I liked it. No one even had to say these words aloud. Just the mere process… it was creative, it was challenging and it was fun as hell.
And lo and behold, the very day after I quit that job selling cars, I was offered a writing gig. My first. For real. Like they would actually pay me money to put words down on paper. And I would work from home. In my yoga pants! With episodes of 90210 on TV in the background. And for the first time since I graduated from college, I might actually be able to pay my bills.

Life has a funny way of smacking you back in your place the minute you think it’s all together. Only a few months after I joined the Writers Guild of America, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. One month after my 29th birthday. Suddenly, my job was the least of my worries. Instead of worrying about deadlines and story arcs, I was worrying about chemo and radiation and… well, living. Suddenly, Erica Kane’s latest man or Kendall’s current drama were inconsequential. I had bigger fish to fry. Big huge tumor sized fish. Incidentally, the only thing I didn’t worry about was my job and insurance. The WGA picked up over two hundred grand in bills. After I had paid maybe a whopping six hundred dollars. No questions asked. It was the first time I had even had health insurance since graduating from college. My boss and my team cut me slack, gave me support and reminded me that we aren’t always the cynical bastards we say we are.

I started writing more. Not just witty dialogue and lines to pluck the heartstrings. I wrote about me. About life. Cancer. In the short time I’d been a professional writer, I’d realized the way I could communicate to my friends, my family and the world… I would write. I blogged all through my cancer treatment and beyond. What I couldn’t say aloud, I wrote. Writing allowed me to vent, to process, to be scared. And it made me laugh. Writing gave me an outlet for all the emotions I was too “tough” to say out loud. Writing was healing.

Oh, my God. I really was a writer.

And that spilled over into my “day job.” When Erica sat by Kendall’s hospital bed, I thought of my own mother, and the look on her face when I came out of my own surgery. When Greenlee talked about not having a family, it was me. Soap operas weren’t just plot and grand schemes and ridiculous twists. It was life. It was messy. It was scary. Those characters on the page – on the screen – they were more real to me than ever. It sounds cliché, but believe me, if I had an actor to read this article, it would sound good, I swear.

And I formed an allegiance to my job. My team. My union. The people who made my horrific ordeal tolerable. The people who made it possible for me to be treated and treated well. There are too many people in this world who don’t have insurance or job security or understanding headwriters. In essence, being a writer saved my life.

So that’s why I write. I will gladly make sacrifices to make sure that twenty years from now, when some other first time writer finds themselves in my position, they have health insurance to take care of them. That they have a union to protect them. And that they have the same opportunity to find themselves that I did.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Taking the eggs out of the basket...

So it's decided. I'm yanking these babies out. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I suggest you read this first. Literally, yanking out babies. Or possible babies. I am signing up for permanent menopause at 31. All my friends' moms - let's chat about hot flashes together. Or that post menopausal ring around the middle.

Only, I'm doing it by choice. Put me in coach, I'm ready to play. Never one to do things halfway, you know.

Is it also wrong that I'm so looking forward to that little IV of heaven they'll give me before surgery? Delicious. I haven't had a good hospital procedure in a while. I miss my opportunities to get legally high.

I'm going to meet a surgeon at Northwestern in March. Probably having the procedure the end of that month. While college kids around the country will be spring breaking, I will be hanging out on my parent's couch, vaguely reminiscent of my first surgery in this drama two years ago.

Only this time, I'm doing it on my terms. I like that. I'm in charge. I'm being proactive. I'm taking the bull by the fallopian tubes. (okay, I know a BULL doesn't have fallopian tubes, excuse the mixed metaphor.)

Some people may say it's extreme, some won't understand. I will bet you if you talk to any young woman who's faced breast cancer, it doesn't seem that crazy. And I don't know a woman yet who's regretted it.

You ever see that "Friends" episode where Phoebe is convinced some old dead woman is in her body and needs to see everything? Think first season. Well, I think perhaps I'll spend the next month or so showing my ovaries everything. We'll toss out that box of tampons sitting under my bathroom sink. We'll use up the last of any birth control we'll ever use. (well, it won't me "just" me and my ovaries) We will take that "Taking charge of your fertility" book and burn it in some weird ceremony that might involve interpretive dance. We'll look up to the gods of fertility and hormones and wish them the best of luck in the future.

I'll tell my ovaries stories of this tumor named Maria. And how Maria wasn't really doing me any favors either. So I had to kick her to the curb. And my ovaries, we'll call them Natasha and Svetlana (for some reason, I'm thinking my ovaries are Eastern Block) - my ovaries will one day visit Maria in the great pathology lab in the sky.

If anyone has ideas on what else my ovaries should see before I let them go, let me know.