The NYC Cockroach: A Brief Tutorial


…just came across this one, written in the bleak summer of 2012 and never posted.

Difficult to read this, it was…i have since nearly forgotten the horrors that my eyes have seen in the past 12 months alone.

THIS, I will NEVER EVER forget: the horror of BURNING ALIVE for almost five minutes while remaining fully conscious.
I went into paralytic shock and simply stared at the hungry orange flames, greedily licking my arms and reaching for my face.
My silk tee shirt melted into my chest.
My grandmother’s antique 24K gold crucifix glowed hot in the flames, presumably almost molten. I have a burn scar underneath where it hung.
Alas, it did not survive the inferno that my little body miraculously did.
I will never forget that image of a glowing tiny Jesus, helpless on the cross, looking up at me from my own chest in my burning kitchen.

“STOP, DROP, AND ROLL”, the epic drill taught to us in elementary school during the Cold War Era,
completely slipped my mind.

However, ON A POSITIVE NOTE!!! — I am delighted to say that through the use of beautiful images and positive thinking, as well as the purest love of my three year old son, William James, I have made it through another personal Hell. Through the the magickal world that is photography, painting, and digital imagery, I have crawled, bloody and charred, from the bottom of the blackest of millennial holes. AGAIN I WILL STAND IN LIGHT. Painting religiously, writing, and shooting, while exercising like a madwoman and plying myself with vegan meals and phytonutrients, I have overcome burn injuries that would frighten Freddie Krueger into submission. (I sustained third degree burns on 80% of my body above the torso, excluding, somehow, my head — and have healed 1000% following the most gruesome nightmare i ever had while awake.)

My left arm, once slated for amputation, was surgically receated in January, using flesh and skin grafts from my lower and mid-lumbar region, and I sweated through 8 months of grueling physical therapy. I graduated!
My melted and charred body, has somehow (!!!???) completely regenerated itself almost as if the fire itself was eons ago in a distant forest.

SO, here goes…thank God it is over. One more nightmare under my belt.
Hold on, little Susie — this old leather belt is running out of notches.
There will probably not be One More Chance.
For my life, I am eternally grateful.
Here is the BEFORE pic of my arm, post-surgery just 10 months ago.
The last four photos are the AFTER pics, now.

July 14, 2012

“I am trying to remember — one step at a time today — that the body is merely a temple for the soul. I feel that my temple has been blasted with a wrecking ball and am sick of pretending I am fine.

Everyone thinks I am such a hero, and so beautiful, and I am sorry to tell you that it is bullshit.
I am alive. That does not make me a hero.
I have been hiding in my house in the heat trying not to cry because the painkillers do not work, and posting pretty pictures to make myself happy. I stared at my ceiling fan all night in bed, sleepless, praying that the itching and the pins and needles would stop. But every time I drifted off, BAM!!! A stab here, a pinched nerve there. I got so mad, I screamed, got out of bed, threw my pillow against the wall and made a pot of coffee. Called it quits. Heroic behavior? I think not.

I am looking at a body that was once athletic and proud and is now a shriveled mass of gristle and scar tissue. How can I sit back and allow you all to shower me with accolades simply for staying alive? How can I allow you all to tell me how beautiful I am? I look in the mirror now and I want to vomit.

I think maybe I am a writer, painter and  photographer because I can create a more beautiful world than the one that actually exists. I look at the photos I post and sometimes think, “Gee, I wish that was my life.” Maybe I have disassociative disorder. Maybe, as a photographer, I am merely a liar with a camera and a paintbrush.  I have been told that the world I have created is indeed a beautiful one, so that leaves me to ponder further on whether or not the filter of intense physical pain causes me to see everything as ruined and distorted — hence my unending surprise when I do see my photographs uploaded on to the screen.  “Who’s life IS that? Certainly not mine!”

I am not fine. I am in pain. And I am sick of being strong today. I just can’t.

Sorry. I am going to let myself hide, let myself cry, and
just keep trying to photograph myself onto another quantum plane. Lord knows this one is feeling mighty sucky today.

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. The truth comes out. If people run from me now, as I expect they may, I will smile in recognition of the fact that when you laugh, the world laughs with you.
And when you cry, you surely cry alone.
I have my paints. I have my books. I have my son.
I have God. At least I thought I did.
I am beginning to wonder.”


November 23, 2012. 9:20:48 P.M. EST

ALLES IN ORDNUNG. I am A-otay, Buckwheat.

Âllo, Herr FIRE???
Was ist das?
Who is laughing now?

Yours truly,
The Original NYC COCKROACH — unkillable.

Janice J. Cunningham
Planet Earth

Take THAT, mighty god of HELLFIIIAH! Mwahahaha. :O


Filed under art, cool stuff, diary, duality, existentialism, imperfection, life, love, photography, stupidity

7 responses to “The NYC Cockroach: A Brief Tutorial

  1. Shain Courtney

    Nice mama. Like the cockroaches, you have one up on all of us when nuclear war begins (you have been through training camp and were victorious – the rest of us will just cry & melt into the earth). Power to the creatures that lurk in your walls!


  2. gareth oliver

    Well written Jance. Subjectve understandably, but objectively balanced. Well read and well said! ——————————


  3. danny

    Intense What can anybody say that you haven’t said to yourself already Pain is Non Forgiving I’ve had to do with myself And do I couldn’t imagine yours All I can say you are the most dynamic person I have ever come across in my life you humble me you deserve to know the impact you make I always wish that you would allow me in any small way how I could be there for you. that has a lifetime need to do warranty truly your friend


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