"Biting Back takes a compelling look at self-care, setting boundaries, and protecting ourselves from friends, loved ones, enemies, and sometimes even ourselves. Written in a page-turning and warm style, Claudia’s refreshing addition to the self-help shelves offers empowering solutions to effectively remind us to stop inviting troubleinto our homes and souls." -- MELODY BEATTIE, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF CODEPENDENT NO MORE


Tyler Durden, Paula Deen, and Me

My incredibly talented friend Jaye did a post last week featuring this picture from everybody's favorite movie, Fight Club, and it inspired me to watch the movie again.

Let’s face it, when I watch this movie I feel nothing less than Complete Joy, and if I tried to explain to you why that is, it just wouldn’t work. Either you know what I'm talking about or you don't.

Tyler getting the “perfect” sock in the ear.
Marla “not making a big deal out of it.”
That bathrobe. Those slippers. That guy with the hose.
You know - just every second of it.

And then there's this: Tyler explaining -- over a lye-soaked hand -- the importance of accepting one's own death.
Part of what he says (and I'll skip to the chase, here) is this:

"First you have to give up. First you have to know -- not fear, but know -- that you are going to die."

Good old Tyler. He's telling us what we have to do to achieve enlightenment, I guess. Or maybe he's just telling us what we have to do in order to relax and recognize what's important so we can finally start having a good time for once in our lives.

Sock it to me, Tyler-baby.

And then there's Paula Deen, who says kind of the same thing.

And while I wouldn't exactly say that Paula and Tyler are as alike as two peas in a pod, I will say that they do have a thing or two in common.

Because when The Queen of Adding Butter, Mayonnaise and Cheese to Simply Everything did an interview with Larry King last August and described how she recovered from her agoraphobia, one of the things she said about getting over it and finally starting to enjoy her life, was this:

"I accepted my mother's death, my father's death, the death of everybody that I loved. I accepted my own death because I couldn't change that, you know. None of us are going to get out of this alive."

Well sock it to me, Paula-baby, too! My heroes.

But enough about them. Now I'm going to tell you about me. Because just after this last New Year's Day I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Spoiler and not to tell you how to feel about this or anything but: I'M FINE!!!

I really am. I was told after the biopsy that this cancer was aggressive, and learned, too, that the pathology report contained an item that didn't look so hot, so about a week ago I can tell you that Robert and I were pretty scared.

Imagine our happiness, then, we we learned on Saturday that my scans (bone and PET) show that there is no sign of cancer anywhere else in my body.

Oh, man. Let's hear it for straightforward, simple, curable breast cancer!!!! I'm not kidding you guys -- all I have to do is get rid of this, which'll be a snap, you know, especially when compared with the alternatives.

Sigh. I feel wonderful.

Which brings me back to those peas I'm in the pod with, sort of. Because one thing I've been given the chance to know --not fear, but know -- is that I'm going to die one day. And so is everyone I love. Which may include you, by the way.

Now. Why should this make me so happy, and don't you just loathe rhetorical questions?

I'll tell you why anyway: Because now I can stop wasting valuable time fearing the reality of my "someday" death and the "someday" deaths of my loved ones, too, and start spending that time enjoying this here moment right now.

And I'm not saying I didn't fear my own death last week, but I will say that there was a "click" at one point -- a "change of channels," as my friend Julie would put it. I went off the "fear" channel and turned onto the "this is real" channel, and I'm here to say, for what it's worth, that Love transmits much more clearly, definetly, and practically on this reality channel than that fear one.

So maybe that's what Tyler's talking about, and Paula, too.

Anyway: I think I'd like to talk about this some more, because I gotta tell you -- there's vampires a'plenty to contend with on this journey.

So I'll keep you posted.


Sherri said...

OMG, Claud, after your email yesterday I started thinking about what I heard Paula Deen say on Oprah once. That very thing, and she said she'd accepted her children's deaths, too, and it was like a light switched on. Then a few days later I forgot it. But I remembered it yesterday!

We are right there. *pointing at my head, your head* Right there.

I'm so glad you're going to be all right. You are a bright, shining light in this world.

Sherri said...

Oh yeah, and Fight Club...Pure joy! I get it!

Claudia said...

Oh Sher -- talk about bright lights, sister! You're the one of the best and brightest, shining all the way to Montana!

Thanks, toots!


M. said...

I'm glad to hear you're going to be okay, Claudia--even if the process of getting rid of the cancer you do have isn't going to be much fun, it's survivable.

And yes, Fight Club is a great, great movie. Right down to the small visual details, it's just really well put together (which reminds me--have you ever noticed that Tyler Durden appears in brief flashes three or four times before he finally appears in the airport? I love that kind of thing).

You know, I haven't thought about this for awhile, but last year when I was waiting for my MRI results to see if I had brain tumors or blood clots or the like in my noggin (thankfully no), I remembered those lines from Fight Club and they were a great comfort to me at the time. Durden and Deen have got it pegged.

Claud said...

Hi M!!

Long time no see, darlin. Thanks for stopping over and I'm so glad I'm going to survive, too. Makes the whole "medicine" thing so much more doable!

And YES I HAVE noticed those little flickers of Tyler (and God knows what else!) in the movie. Aren't they just the cutest?

I'm glad to hear you are well and cancer-free. One dear friend said to me that she was beginning to think of it as a sort of "rite of passage" for women/people our age -- and when I say "our age" I mean her age and mine, btw. :)
It's getting to be as common as noses -- cancer, I mean. You know?

Angela said...


I've simply got to see that movie again. While I intellectually understand the concept of which you speak, I have never been in a situation where I actually had to consider that I might die soon. Die, yes. Soon, no. I have been absolutely amazed at your pragmatism, your courage and mostly, your concern for others and not yourself. Your Practical Vampire Slayer principles are serving you well and we'll all benefit from your journey.

Angela (still whittling away on my own stake)

jennifergg said...

What a wonderful, beautiful, fantastic post. As always, you have the perfect way of explaining to me what is essential to remember, to KNOW.

I will be there with you, on your journey, in whatever way you need...I'm thinking I could bring treats? Because everything is better with treats? Maybe butter cookies???

Sending my love and gratitude and appreciation FOR YOU all the way across the frozen mountains and into your able hands...


Feemus said...

You're pretty freaking amazing, Claud, you know that?

Only a mind as sharp and alert and fantastically off-kilter as yours could mix Tyler Durden and Paula Deen and come up with something coherent. let alone inspirational.

And speaking of inspiration, you're it. A total inspiration.

I am Jack's pure joy at knowing Claudia.

Claudia said...

Angela: you HAVE got to see that movie again -- it is so not hard on the eyes. Alot, it's not.
Thanks, toots. And we'll both keep whittling away.

And Jen: Man I could feel your help today like crazy. Thanks for coming over. I know I asked you and Angela to come over and tell me if the post was over the top or not...and then later on I was thinking: I'm so sure you were going to tell me it sucked when I have cancer!

Ha ha. As I was saying to Feemus earlier: I'm getting perverse. It's the relief I'm feeling after last week, I think. It may pass. Or not.

And FEEM: No fair being more clever than me on my blog. Jack's pure joy indeed! I love having such smart and funny friends! Thank you so much.

Jaye Wells said...

I can't believe I took so long to get over here. We've emailed so I won't give you another rah-rah speech, but you rock, woman.

I heard Paula Deen interviewed on NPR about a month ago and it was so inspirational. I sat in my garage tearing up for fifteen minutes to hear the end.

Let us know how things are going, please!

claud said...

Okay Jaye, I won't give YOU another rah rah speech either (cough: 3 book deal woman!), and I know: Paula Deen -- talk about your unlikely heroes!

Mich said...

Hi! I just popped over from Angela's blog to pass on my best wishes and delight that your surgery went well. And now I've just got to stay and hang around and read more!


claud said...

Hey Mich,

Thanks for stopping over, and thank you for your well-wishes. That Angela's having a time of her own over there, isn't she?

Time to go see if you have a blog!


Mich said...

Yes, poor Angela is having a bad time too!

Yes, I've a couple of blogs ... my personal one is Infinite Bliss and the other one is a virtual circle ... feel free to drop in

I must say I am enjoying myself wandering around your blog!


jjdebenedictis said...

Take care, and I'm really glad to hear that the prognosis is good. Stay brave, and know that we're all pulling for you.

claud said...

Hi JJ!!!

I've been visiting your blog but have been too pooped in this past week to comment -- I'm a little worn out from the surgery for now, mostly the anesthetic, I think. It's being very slow about leaving my body, and I'm feeling all disconnected and icky. 't will pass, I'm sure.

Great to see you, darlin!


funforager said...

The message and the medium are yummy. No one else in the world could put all you peas and us in that pod and it really works. The photos are divine. Keep on socking it to us, PVS

feemus said...

Hot picture, lady!

And by "hot," of course, I mean "writerly."

Adaora A. said...

I'm going to be honest and say aside from the Mental Illness storyline - which is amazing- it's all about Mr. Pitt's body.

PVS said...

Indeed, a difficult (I was going to say, "hard") element to overlook. What a darling he is -- but honestly, adaora, would it be that interesting without his truly good and funny acting in this? Not to me...

Thanks for stopping over!

Jaye Wells said...

Just wanted to say it's so great to see your pretty picture now. Hope all is well.

Claudia said...

Thanks, tootsie! It's not as bad as I expected, but...you know...it's another world!

December/Stacia said...

Fight Club is one of my favorite movies ever, although I still haven't lived down the first time we watched it. When Brad appears shirtless...my husband still makes fun of me for the involuntary sound I made. Which was something like a moan. :-)

Claud said...

What a great surprise to find you here, Stacia! Hello!!!

I always get a little embarassed around my husband when Russell Crowe comes on the screen -- I feel like my reaction is so obvious! (unless pupil dilation and labored breathing aren't actually that obvious, I don't know!)

Plus: how old school can you get? I'm STILL hung up on Russell Crowe and still carry my X-Files Membership card in my wallet, too. Die hard or what.

Great to see you here -- I recall your name from the old Snark days!

Sarrissimo said...

Could someone please tell me which NPR program Paula Deen spoke on? I've been looking through the archives on the NPR website and I cannot find it. A name of the interviewer or exact date would be perfect! Thanks

pvslayer said...

Welcome, Sarrissimo,

See if you have any luck with this link:


I believe you'll find it somewhere there!


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