“Then I'm sitting through the longest haircut of my life, and I'm bluffing through all those generic conversations you have to have with people who cut your hair and clean your teeth and such. She's asking where I live and what I do, and she heard I was getting married and when was that happening? And the whole time I'm describing the life that was my life yesterday, but is no longer my life today, or tomorrow, or any day I can yet foresee. —Kia Momtazi
One of the first staffers I met when I began writing for CityBeat nearly five years ago was my friend Kia. Vibrant, smart, gorgeous and unselfconsciously hip, she reminded me of a much more vibrant, smart, gorgeous and unselfconsciously hip version of my 23-year-old self (and, P.S., exactly zero of those adjectives applied to me in the first place). In other words, she was worlds ahead of who I was—and damned near close to who I wish I'd been—in my 20s. I was drawn to her for many reasons, but if I had to sum it all up, I'd say it was her humble magnetism. She was living a take-no-prisoners life while I felt, at the time, like a prisoner in my own. I liked living vicariously as I watched her do what I wish I'd been brave enough to do at her age. On a scale of one to 10, she is an eleventeen.
Shortly after I'd gotten to know her, Kia left San Diego for a grand adventure of self-discovery. When she described her itinerary to me before leaving, I immediately thought of Eat, Pray, Love, only more interesting and without self-pity. It's too bad she didn't have a book deal, since the woman can write like a mo-fo. After going north, and then south, she eventually went east and built a life in a place more prone to equality than our Golden State. Kia fell in love and planned to get married.
Kia is wise beyond her years—as they say, an old soul. She is beautiful, warm, funny, kind, creative, insightful and smart.
She also happens to be fighting for her life, which took an unexpected detour last spring when she learned she had Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma.
As Dorothy Parker might say—and as I wrote to Kia in an email back then—this is terrible. It's fancy terrible. It's terrible with raisins in it.
In true Kia form, she has approached her illness with a determination and grace that I can't muster when dealing with a checker at Michael's, let alone a life-and-death circumstance. And—luckily for those of us who adore her writing—she's employed her particular gift for storytelling, sharing her experience at CaliforniCancerCation.
“I think I'm supposed to envision the cancer as the Evil Eye of Sauron,” she wrote last March, using The Lord of the Rings as metaphor. “My spleen is Mount Doom, and all the cancer cells are a grimy army of snaggle-toothed Orcs. My will to heal and positive body responses are... hobbits? Sam and Frodo? Rudy and Elijah Wood? No, no, much better: I'm Viggo Mortenson! Aragorn, King of Men! Yeah!” Who wouldn't want to read that book?
Kia has chronicled her diagnosis—and loss of independence, as she returned indefinitely to her parents' home in Visalia, Calif., accompanied by her faithful partner, Annie. She's written with stark honesty about a spring and summer filled with chemotherapy, hospitalizations and invasive procedures. She shared her frustration, anger and sorrow, still managing to be funny: With the help of Annie, she filmed Cribs: Hospital Style live from Room 32. In September, Kia flew east, stared down Hurricane Irene and married her love. She thought she had cancer “in the bag.”
“The thing is,” she wrote on Sept. 28, “five days after we returned to California, I learned that cancer is never in the bag, except maybe several years into remission. Or perhaps longer than that, I'm not sure. I have no control. Plans are made to be changed. And nothing is guaranteed.”
Folks, Kia is in need of a bone marrow / stem-cell transplant, and because she's an extra-special kind of girl—the kind who goes big or goes home, the kind of girl we here at CityBeat celebrate—not just any old bone marrow will do. The National Bone Marrow Registry matches people based on a 10-point scale, and Kia needs the surf-skipping, corn-rowed Bo Derek of matches. Kia needs a 10, and, currently, not one person in the entire registry is a 10.
In an effort to find Kia's bone marrow doppelganger, CityBeat arts editor Kinsee Morlan has launched Operation Perfect 10; if christiansingles.com can facilitate lasting matches, then why not an alt-weekly, right?
Please consider joining the national registry and spreading the word. Make this article go viral. Anyone could be Kia's Perfect 10, but people of Persian-American background would be especially desirable candidates since she descends from the land of beautiful smart people. I am an Ahskenazi Jew, but I joined. The way I see it, the Persians and I have the giant schnoz in common, why not bone marrow, too?
It takes all of 20 minutes to read through the details about what it means to become a potential donor (you could save someone's life) and order your free kit to determine if you're a match. There are no needles involved, just a cheek swab.
Operation Perfect 10 is seeking the perfect cheek swab. One of us hobbits may hold the fate of the Fellowship. Please: Go forth and swab. For Kia.