F*ck It List 2.0: Seattle. ~ Kathleen Emmets {Adult}

Via Kathleen Emmets
on Jan 24, 2014
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Dance alone

Read the first here.

I have my boarding pass in hand.

My shoes, electronics, and coat are all in their grey tray, waiting to go through the scanner. The TSA woman tells me to come forward—I know I’m going to set off the alarm.

This is the joy of traveling with a chemotherapy port. It means I get to have a stranger cup the underside of my breasts and slide her hands up and down my thighs. Too bad I didn’t have ‘public fondling’ on my Fuck It List. I could have crossed that off along with Seattle, Washington.

To briefly explain, in 2011, at 35 years old, I was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer. Since then, I have fought hard for my physical and mental health. I knew I needed something to spur me on, to keep that fight going.

I needed to do something for me!

That’s when I created my ‘Fuck It List,’ A list of all the things I want to accomplish in my life, places I want to visit, etc. It is about me saying ‘fuck it’ to my illness…’fuck it’ to those who said I couldn’t and to those who say I shouldn’t.

And, most importantly, I’m saying ‘fuck it’ to fear.

I won’t give in and allow it to rule my life.

Last month’s ‘Fuck It List’ trip was to Portland, Oregon.

This month brought me to Seattle, Washington.

I headed there with five of my friends to spend five days exploring the city that vicariously ruled my teenage years.

Flannel shirts, Dr. Martens, wool caps, Nirvana… Pearl Jam… Damn it, if I could only find a bottle of CK One perfume! I’d say that was my signature scent, but pretty much every boy and girl wore it back then too. Sigh, quite the trendsetter I was.

With tickets to see my first Pearl Jam concert (in Seattle!!! Shut up!!) I was going to dive headfirst into nostalgia. We even planned road trips based around visiting Kurt Cobain’s house, Jimi Hendrix’s grave, and the house from the classic 90’s film, ‘Singles’.

Touristy? Yes. Lame? Hell no!!

We stayed at the infamous Edgewater Hotel; many tales of rock n roll debauchery have taken place there. The building itself seems like a place that would hold your darkest secrets. Unfortunately, my only secret was accidentally spooning my friend while we slept in our shared double bed.

What can I say? I’m a cuddler.

We hit the ground running the moment we got to Seattle; Pike Place Market was the first stop. Who would think seeing fish being thrown around could be so entertaining? Yet, there I was, laughing and clapping like a five year old at a circus. The wall of gum was both disgusting and oddly appealing. It’s says a lot about me that the pictures I took pretending to lick the wall were thought to be absolutely real by those who saw them on Facebook.

(Note to self: work on being more ladylike in 2014.)

Never in my life have I seen so many coffee shops in one place. Granted, this is the location of the original Starbucks but, come on! There is literally a coffee shop on every block, which worked out well because it was so damn cold, we were constantly looking for a place to warm up. Thankfully, I brought my warmest coat, because this was the kind of cold that makes one very, very angry to be outside.

We spent time in a museum that had a Nirvana collection on display. I thought I would be super psyched to see it; to be up close to the drum kit Dave Grohl originally played or the sweater Kurt Cobain wore in the ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ video.

Instead, it made me sad. Sad to know how it all turned out.

But that’s life, right?

If we knew the ending, we never would be able to enjoy the present moment. I never would have danced around my room to ‘In Utero’ if I knew that not too long after, Kurt Cobain would kill himself and the music scene I loved so much would begin to die along with him.

We have ideas about our stars, but really, we have no clue. Standing outside Kurt’s house; the house where he took his own life, filled me with deep aching. While I don’t know why he did it, I do know what it’s like to be in a place so dark, you think you will never be able to pull yourself out of it. Some people are lucky enough to be able to. Unfortunately, he was not.

Every one of us walks around with a mask on, rarely showing the world what is going on behind it. I do it myself. Not many people know the emotional toll cancer has taken on me. Two and a half years of treatments and surgeries, fears and panic attacks, go mostly unseen. The pain is thought to be ours and ours alone.

But, it doesn’t have to be. If we are lucky enough to have friends and family, maybe a great therapist or chemical balancing drugs, we can come out on the other side of the darkness.

Learn to gently slide the hand away when fear comes to grip you.

Accept the uncertainty of life and focus on the present joy.

Even if that joy is a shady tree to sit under or a great song played at just the moment you needed to hear it.

The Pearl Jam show ran over two hours. They give everything they have on stage and the audience gives it right back. It’s a beautiful, awe-inspiring experience. One of their finales was the song ‘Alive,’ a favorite of mine from way back that now holds so much more relevancy.

I closed my eyes, threw my hands in the air, and sang along with thousands of people,

“I, oh, I’m still alive

Hey I, oh, I’m still alive”

It isn’t always easy. There are dark periods sometimes, but remember that the light will always find it’s way through.

Hold on for the light.

Hold on for those moments when you are gripping a stranger’s hand in a darkened arena, singing, sharing, living.

I’m still alive

I’m still alive.

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Photo: Andrea Rose. Flickr



About Kathleen Emmets

Kathleen Emmets is an avid music lover and yoga enthusiast. She believes in seeking out the good in all things and being her most authentic self. Her articles have appeared in MindBodyGreen.com and DoYouYoga.com. Kathleen lives in East Norwich, NY with her husband, son, two cats and a dog. She does not necessarily love them in that particular order.


6 Responses to “F*ck It List 2.0: Seattle. ~ Kathleen Emmets {Adult}”

  1. Hi Kathleen,
    I'm a cancer survivor too and I have my own fuck it list. I had stage III rectal cancer in 2006 and after a year of treatment was supposed to go off and live the rest of my life. Then this past fall a tumor was discovered in my liver. Removed with surgery, but chemo to come-I will also have the ubiquitous port–and the fight continues.

    Like you I have learned the tricky balance of always remembering that right now I'm okay and that I will kiss my kids goodnight, hold my beautiful wife, and wake up to them all in the morning. The tough balance is thinking of the future and what is coming and what remains t be done and what remains t be planned and taken care of. I want to live in the now, but the future calls and is insistent.

    So I started a travel website devoted to people who are creative–especially writers–and want to do more than lounge by a resort swimming pool (www.worldseers.com). As it grows and I add blog and other pieces I think it will reflect my fuck it list, which is pretty much composed of places I would love to see. So many and so little time, even with a long life.

    At any rate, I wish you luck in your cancer journey and very much enjoyed the spirit of the journey you shared in your essay.

    Be well and remain in the light,

  2. Kathleen Emmets says:

    James, thank you for sharing your story and for your kind words. It's so important to tell the people you love how your feel. It's also important to go out there and live your life. I'm so glad you're doing both. I wish the best possible outcome for your treatments. May you have a long and adventure filled life.


  3. Joseph says:

    Loved the post and your insights. I live in Seattle and really love all the things you did. I'm not from here, and have similar musical tastes. I'm still the tourist enjoying some of the very things you mention.

    My Father just passed away this November after winning his fight with cancer but to a bad reaction to his treatment. Funny, I wish I could have shared the idea of a "F*ck it list." As he didn't particularly enjoy the idea of a "bucket list."

    This post and your message would have been just right for him.

    Since his passing, I've decided to help others with a new blog and some new ways to look at the world. I share ideas just like this one and will pass this message along. My hope to help evolve consciousness in a way that makes a difference in the lives around me. Just like you are doing with your post here.

    Wishing you well, warmest regards: [email protected]

  4. Kathleen says:

    That's a beautiful tribute to your brother. Go shine your light in this world! Thank you for your comment and for taking the time to read my adventures. I would love to read all about yours!

    Best wishes,


  5. John says:

    Nice job, congrats on your travels and continued success remaining cancer free. 18mo survivor here and will be embarking on my fuck it trip as soon as my wife gets better too 🙂

  6. Kathleen says:

    Woot Woot!! Rock on, survivor!! All the best to you and your wife!