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If we’re going to blame anyone, let’s blame Susan Cooper. If Ms. Cooper hadn’t settled behind a typewriter to punch out all the letters and punctuation and blank spaces (the very most important bits; if you don’t have blank spaces, you just have letters bumping into each other with an alphabetical cacophony of “Sorry!” and “Why, excuse me!” and “Hey now, watch it! Can’t you see I’m pregnant?”—The Bs get away with that last one all of the time. All. Of. The. Time.) of The Dark is Rising, no one would have given a second-hand copy to me for my 8th birthday.

Bird, bird, bird, bird is the word…

I finished the series and wound up entranced by this mythical realm of far-away Wales. (The Welsh might be surprised to discover their country is mythical, but the Welsh need to slow their Celtic roll and just go with it.) So, when my Freshman Spanish teacher (I was a Freshman; she was a Spanish teacher) volunteered her plans to head to the U.K. over the holidays, I asked her for a Welsh-English dictionary. (Pre-web, guys. Sourcing stuff was harder then. Like, you know, so much more difficult.) Surprisingly, Senora Adams delivered and I was and am forever grateful.

One day I, too, will be as smart as a cover cartoon character…

Despite all my best intentions over the decades, I still can’t speak Welsh. But I can pay Google Translate exactly nothing to convert gab for me, so my go-to language when I want fun and fanciful is Cymric.

Except. Except this one time, this one most important time, it failed me. When the InstaPrincess was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, I sought my usual linguistic refuge to write about it, and instead of curious vocables such as hyfrydwch or tywysoges or Damn poeth, fy ngwraig yn boeth! my search result simply ended up as:


Welsh dropped the e but kept the rest. Which merely illustrates that cancer fuckin’ ruins everything.

We don’t know how this cancr journey will go. We have hopes (as does everyone who’s been hit), and yes, it pays to stay positive, but cancr isn’t kind, it isn’t ethical, and it isn’t anything more than a mindless barbarian silently disintegrating the gates.

So, tonight, a few hours after her first chemo treatment, and after slinging back a bottle of Riesling Auslese Nahe (it’s what we had—shut up… also, I bought it, so no regrets!) I wearily sit on the couch, a bit numb, and a lot wishing I lived in a Susan Cooper book where magic gets shit done.

We’re the bazillionth family living with cancr, I get this. But, our nerves are still on the red side of raw and we still approach it with gallows humor (that might never change); and while I feel its way performative to say it on a publicly-accessible blog, I rather fiercely love the InstaPrincess, and I will ride this Riesling rocket to write Susan Cooper right away and demand she spin me a magical Welsh spell to erase all the other goddamn letters of my wife’s cancr.

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  1. I am right there with you “fuck cancer”! Our family has sure had some battles with this shit. I love all of you and if you need anything I’m in JOCO remember? Hugs and love