Popular Posts

Baby Proof Slick

Hark, the happiness horizon. Paint it yourself. There’s no phone call coming, "Hello, Dear, we found your soul satiation, your dream wall all lit up, your real rest and therapeutic guffaws."  No Handsome stranger delivering good news, lessin’ he can find you, darlin’ girl.  You find you.  No out of the blue Enter Here at the stage door, your dressing room awaits, where you are young, professional, where you can be every time of you, where you look deepest into your eyes and see all the versions of you, preparing, constantly balance your fear and your power within the construct of words or notes or curtain up curtain down, freedom to bleed your art all over everyone, where you are full, growing from and flying over the grounded.  No Here’s the kiss, the whisper that makes you come, holding the door for you, makes you feel tiny-delicate, checking you out, is so happy for you...so beautiful and sexy, your talent and confidence makes you so attractive. (Cancer is like jewelry for the eccentric, the smart, perceiving you...bedazzled, hip, shiny pink badge of OH you are so STRONG!) No friends sweeping in without a welcome mat, an opening at the INNvalid.  Time to take this show on the road, Babe.   Creeeeeeeek, (cough cough), the door is opening.  Can’t see the horizon from your shadow world, and they can’t see you so far off the radar. Can’t make them work so hard, now.  Your ears have been burning, go find the buzz, gal. Yawn and stretch (ow) and try to come alive! 

(er, uh, by the way, this was a document lost, and found.  It was written, 'cept for this bit, prior to "Trick, I Guess".  Just sayin'.  It's a bit outta order)

Memorial, Mary Ellen Locher; Doc cuts me off, anticipating my question, saying, with borderline exasperation, It’s time to “liberate movement” (undertone of JEEEEEZ!).  I have been harassing him about exercise. When can I Just Do It??? Had major resistance for months.  But thank goodness.  I didn’t, don’t want to cause damage to his lovely work.  I try to clarify what all I am able to do now;  Running? Wee wittle weight wifting? Picking up my nephew without the panic I’ll drop him and a boob will fall off and my back will split open?  Up until this visit, he has said I couldn’t even ride the stationary bike, or walk too fast.  I’d been chastised for carrying a backpack.  But now he says, “Do whatever you want. Walk a tight rope for all I care! Take your dance classes. You’re baby proof!”
He’s chuckling a bit as he says these things.  And I am, too.  I want to toss-head-back-cackle.  Here I sit, topless, (yet again), having just been squeezed and freed by this man in his lavender (always pastels, even when they are plaid) button down, and he just called his cancer-treatment-induced-infertile, never-having-nor-never-will-breast-feed, breast patient “Baby Proof”.  He is clueless, but I love this moment.

Now the nurse comes in.  We are to schedule nipple construction. (if I had a nickel…) Dr. B leaves in his usual flurry and I have to stand by the blue back ground for breast mug shots.  I am secretly wishing it was actually a blue screen and that I could appear topless on the roof of a speeding train, or skydiving, or something psychedelic…

I digress.
I always digress.

Anyone who knows me knows I am the queen of digression, tailor of tangential tales, often at “too many notes” impartation station.  I am concision Kryptonite. Here’s to the poor souls who have endured my voicemail messages.  Have you gotten through them all yet?  Are you okay?

Pics done, I dress. I go to scheduling with Doris. October 31 or December 2?  I am told I’ll have these little shields protecting my new nips that should fit easily under my bra for two weeks.  Well, I guess I can start my new job with those.  I ask three different people in the office, two nurses and Doris.  “Should fit easily under the bra.”  If I need to, I can drive myself to the procedure.  I am sure that mom and/or dad will want to drive me, but it’s good to know.  December 5th we head to Kansas for a week to visit Jason and Heather and the two girls.  I want to be able to pick up my niece, Faith, and not worry about bandages or shields or anything like that.  So, Halloween it is!  Why not?  I had my boobs cut off on Mardi Gras...  Let’s dress ‘em up on Halloween!

I leave the hospital and, aah joy, I hit the gym!  Oh my goodness gracious it was awesome!!!  I sweat! I felt my heart pumping (fitness not fear or frustration)!  I know You, Girl.  I know You, Athletic Person, Dancer, You, Pushing Yourself!  Hi!  I missed You!!  I know You, Body.  I know You, Muscles.
nnnnnnNNNOOO I don’t.  mmph. eek.  It was all going so well.  But I start to realize I don’t know this body.  I’ve been out of shape before, and then felt the invigoration of bringing myself back into good condition.  But now, I don’t know what I can do.  I tried to do light lat pull downs.  I am literally missing part of my left Latissmus Dorsi.  I can’t feel it.  I can’t feel it.  I know there is muscle there, still.  But I can not feel it.  Do I try harder?  Do I back off?  I tried to do a couple light presses…just 5’s.  5's, for cryin' out loud.  Good Grief.  But I was suddenly so aware that my pectoral muscles are all mismatched now.  I am not just weak from lack of exercise.  I am re-worked, re-wired.  I have all this ambition and determination but I need more information, more knowledge.  Stretching is scary, sit-ups feel precarious.  AARRRRRGGHHH!!!!  I am both frustrated and exhilarated being here. 

Finish a thorough, bizarre and monumental workout.  I take myself to the Majestic, downtown.  I see The Guard.  I laughed and laughed.  

I love going to the movies by myself.  The first time I ever did was to Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. The next time was about three years ago in New York.  The first one I tried to go to alone was an Ingmar Bergman film in the village.  "Monika", and, the west one.   
(smile….sentimental rush…I can taste the pizza, smell the beer soaked bars, feel the laughter in my cheeks, see the bright fresh flowers for sale, brightest against the graey rainy days and I couldn't resist buying them then…I am walking out of the West 4th Street station onto sidewalks to everywhere cool...a show...a rehearsal...through the glass doors into...)

It was around midnight and it would have been perfect, but that my soon to be ex-husband insisted on joining me.  He was clinging to us, when not checking texts from the latest young, naive girl who thought they were in love. (please note my mature and polite substitution for "stupid whore").  And even though we were in couples’ therapy, which ultimately proved to be sessions with a calm and educated man decisively advising us NOT to be together, I was already in my head and heart fleeing…in fight AND flight.   I didn’t want to go home with him, and he didn’t want to go home without me.  And he sure as hell had no interest in the film.  But damnit, there we were, cold and sad in the flicker and glow of black and white.

The first movie I saw by myself after the divorce was Juno.   I reveled in my independence, watching a movie in Manhattan in the middle of the afternoon, having the theater nearly to myself, my boots propped up on the back of the seat in front of me as I ate my Brie and Arugula sandwich instead of popcorn.  

It was raining when I left the theater in Chattanooga.  I distinctly remember practicing my Scottish and Irish dialects (movie inspired) as I drove the ramp off 24 onto 75.  Not a particularly dangerous ramp, or at least it never seemed to me to be, I still take the curve under the limit.  I got just to the point of hitting 75 when my car decided to chainee across the interstate.  Cue ironic waltz.  I slid through three lanes, traveling sideways, forward, and round and round.  My mind was recalling road rules;  “When hydroplaning ALWAYS…wait, no, it was, NEVER….” 
(that’s for you, Rach)
Don’t freeze.  I was trying to drive into it, flying by eighteen-wheelers and various vehicles like a space ship through asteroids.  Somehow, after spinning all the way on to the shoulder of the left-most lane, I began another 360 back across the interstate, going the other way, again, sailing passed moving metal masses, unscathed, and end up in the exit lane for the next exit, and stop neatly and unassumingly in the halted traffic in front of me.
I’d been silent in the car, but felt like I’d been screaming my lungs out.  There was a lingering echo of the screeching tires. I kept expecting someone to approach the car, or to see red and blue flashing…something.  Nothing.  We inch along.  Traffic is completely congested ahead.  Can’t believe I didn’t hit anyone, anything, or this stopped wall of cars.  I’ll just get off here at East Ridge…so I can take a moment…ya know…to make sure my I haven’t defecated in the driver’s seat…a moment to shake or cry or laugh or whatever’s coming. 

I drive home, continually resetting my shoulders.  I drive home slowly, replaying the day.  Baby proof.  Haha.  The gym.  The movie.  Everything after the slick is a blur.
Eyes on the road.  Shoulders down.  Hear the leather of the steering wheel as my knuckles release and clench and release. 
Over the wet leaves into the driveway.  The glow of home lit up when you are expected.  Pull up next to the liriope. Park. Parking break up. Lights off.  Listenish for a moment more to the nebulous tunage of evening NPR. Turn it all off. 
(That's for you, "SB" Peterson)

A day of odd and grand blessings. 

Trick, I guess.

Spread wide and tied, I spent my Halloween on a table while two men operated on me, simultaneously, while Sydney and Margaret watched.
Nope, not some creepy porn.  (or as mother referred to an r-rated movie once; a porno). I was dans l’hopital.

I was gettin’ the candles put in my cupcakes.  The girls have party hats again.  I was awake to hear surgeon to surgeon banter as they tugged at my breasts like they were tying up boots before a hike.

My routine pre-surgery call from Jackie at Erlanger was a bit different this time.  Usually it’s the whole “don’t eat or drink after midnight...no make-up or jewelry” etc.  The last surgery in particular, she said I could eat at around 5:00 AM, but “Nuhthin’ heeeeeeeehvy…jyest uh eeeeeehggg, er uh piece uh toast er somthin’.” 

I don't mean to be mean.  My own drawl comes out sometimes, and I luuuuhv eeeyit. There is just something about these medical professionals talking to me this way that is a significant part of my experience. I want to convey the color, the twang per twinge of needle pokes.

Jackie told me this would only be local anesthetic, so I could eat whenever and would only have to be uncovered from the waste up.  Well, gee, it’s Halloween, after all. It was all I could do not to show up in my wig and lashes. But there I sat, in pre-op, with a gauzy cap, two hospital gowns, facing opposite directions, several blankets, my Anne Taylor too short but still sophisticated skirt, and spider web stockings, and even an added pair of pumpkin socks to help keep me warm.  

Nurse Sydney sat with me and began to give the run down of what to expect. I already knew that it was “local”.  I also already knew a bit about what he’d be doing in the procedure. As of about three weeks ago, I knew that I’d have to wear protective shields under my bra (welcome to my weird world) for about two weeks after the operation. I was assured this was no big deal.  As of that last visit, I had FINALLY been allowed to work out!  I got a job! Shields Schmields. Whatever, let’s just get this done!!!
But no. Now, Sydney is explaining to me the size of the “shields”.  She uses the word cones. CONES.  I am hearing Like A Virgin up in here and that makes me think I may not be able to go to work.  I may be losing my brand new job, for which I have a double shift tomorrow! Well, I was originally told I could drive myself to and home from this surgery…so how bad could it be? THAT’S why I allowed for work the next day!  She then says things like, “You’ll get a couple shots, that shouldn’t hurt too much. They usually don’t. They won’t. If they do, it won’t be too bad…”  (I’m finding her painting a disturbing picture…her picture painting disturbing)  “He always swears that nobody can feel anything…Usually nobody ever does…You’ll be fine…if you do feel anything, it won’t be anything you can’t tolerate…”

I will be given grounding. (would it were so.) A grounder. A patch to make sure I am not electrocuted as he…how did she say it…”zap zap zaps” me.  My arms will be spread out and bound so I don’t involuntarily swat at him. 

I am starting to visibly shake.  And frankly, I want to cry. I want so badly to cry.  I am lonely.  Mom is here, outside.  She'll be in soon.  But it isn't that.  I am deeply lonely.  I hear her, the nurse, talking, sort of, but I am looking at the man across the room in recovery, sitting up, exposed to me.  No one seems terribly concerned about his privacy. His dignity?  I watch him sit up, not lucid, with a sedated frown on his face.  Not sad or mad, just dosed muscles and confusion.  I have been here in this pre-op/post-op area a number of times.  Literally in this building, but hopefully never so lost as he.  I have been in other operating rooms in this town. The last time I was here they kept screwing up the IV.  But I came out of here in less pain than I had when I went in.  Today, I don’t know.  I shouldn’t want this, but I want them to put me under. Or, I want something for anxiety.  I don’t want to worry about the “tolerable” pain.  I don’t want to lose my job…my stepping-stone to moving on; Paychecks. Purpose. Routine. Social Oxygen.

"Are you cold?"
"Are you nervous?"
"Oh, no, don't be!"
  I am not usually like this before surgery.  I am usually trying to amuse or calm everyone else down.  Or there’s that knowledge that I will be asleep.  I’ll usually deal with what happens after…after.

Dr. B comes in, directly out of previous surgery.  He walks toward me and Sydney, and then stops and turns as he says "I need to get my...", and he grabs a can of soda off the counter.  He then continues towards us, holding up the can and says, "what do you call this?"    I think for a moment that maybe he doesn’t actually know the name of the drink.  But then Sydney says the name.  At this point, ironically, despite my fascination with the nuance of dialect, I just heard Sprite. But then the good doctor starts saying, comically loud, “SPRAAAAAHHHT????…SPRAAAAHHHHT”.  We all laugh.  He’s making fun of her.  She acknowledges this.  There is a Spraahht-off.  She says it her way, he says it his her way, and back and forth and back forth.  I am laughing.  And shaking. 

Curtains are closed.  As I am instructed, I get up to disrobe.  My blankets knock the Sprite to the floor.  There’s a hullabaloo.   This man who is about to cut into me again is joking about having SPRAAAAAHT on his pants.  His scrubs.

I take off my robes.  He instructs me, (I have heard this next part so many times from him but I love it), “shoulders back, put your hands on your hips like your giving me a lecture.”
I chuckle nervously every time.
He is drawing on me with a pen peeled out of the same casing they pull needles out of, but it’s basically a sharpie.  Measuring tape anchored under finger pressure at my clavicle, to NR: 20.   Mark an X.  NL; 20.   X.

I ask about working out again, cause it’s been weird getting back into it, learning my body again.  My back has been cut into, my front is different. Like, different from before, and different from side to side.  He says not to worry about my back at all.  Workout as if nothing ever happened.  In other words, I don’t have to distinguish dangerous pain from PT pain.  Good to know.  However, apparently, I am never allowed to do push ups again..."Unless you want your boobs to look weird! Hahahahahahaha!” Quoth he.

And suddenly, we’re off.
I’m walked down the hall, a vision in my robes and blankets and spider web stockings, pumpkin socks.

Into the brightly lit room, up on the bed.  It’s been warmed.  Nice.  Get comfy.  Weird laying here topless in a skirt and stockings....should be a very different scenario…significantly different lighting.

I meet Margaret. I never really hear her comments, not even her Hello.  She’s masked the whole time.

The room is so cold.  Sydney has to take down the robe to put the blood pressure cuff on.  Then the grounder is placed on my stomach.  She asks to stretch my arms out, and gently ties my them down.  I immediately get an itch on my nose.  I don’t mention it.  I hear my blood pressure being monitored, and I decide to relax.
I got this.

As Syd cleans me, though, I twitch a like crazy.  I still have that weird thing where I feel in my back when I am touched in my front.  After they cut from my left lat and wrapped it around to my left pec, when you touch my pec, I feel it in my back. It doesn’t hurt, really.  But it’s…it’s “ACK!”  is what it is. 

Paper bibs are laid all around my breasts, stomach, tucked under my sides, over my neck.  The girls, (my new ones) are lit and glowing, but I will not look down. 

Doc B comes in as beckoned upon my final prep. He brings in Doc Gerald.  Music is put on.  Is there an alternative rock that’s now just considered soft rock?  Big giant bright lights in my face.  I am introduced to Dr. Gerald Something-or-Other (or is his last name actually Gerald?) as he and Dr. Brzezienski are picking tools, standing on either side of me, at my chest level. I can feel Dr. B’s pelvis.  I can’t move.  I am calm and clenched.  He starts poking.  Oh how well I know this “Little Pinch” comment by now. 
To be perfectly honest, I never really felt any bad pain today.  But my mind was primed for it, for potential hurt.  Strapped down, alert and helpless, you feel things heightened.  Ow ow ow ow….

We joked a bit.  We talked about New York subways.  I told the story of getting mugged on the A train, but maintaining my wallet and the bottle of wine I’d just bought.  Then they talked amongst themselves. Dr. B. finished his part of one side, and then moved to the left one while Dr. Gerald was the closer on the right.  They got to a point where they were both tugging like they were tying up a tent or the straps on a trailer.

At one point, in reference to my having inquired about push-ups, Dr. B says I should try doing the Aaaahhnuuhhds.  He then enacts an arm exercise for me to try, that apparently Arnold Schwarzenegger did. This, with tiny bloody scissors in his gloved hands.

Beep Beep Beep.  Dr. B says, “That MIGHT be a beeper!”  Nurse Sydney jumps up at the hint and rushed to find it. It was indeed his beeper.  There is much discussion about the fact that he had a surgery planned for 5:00 upstairs, (tug tug, poke, pull...smoke floating up in my view from his cauterizing. zap zap zap), and that he will be on time!  I feel I am getting “wrapped up”. 

Before he leaves, the doctor says, “Well, here’s you new addition!”  I guess I should look down.  “It’ll shrink to a third that size.”  O lord, I hope so. WHAT am I looking at?
can't move my arms.

“Okey Dokey, Bye bye!” He really talks like that.
And he’s out.

I am given the protective covers that woman who are breastfeeding sometimes wear.  I am told I cannot bathe, and if I need to, I can put gauze or kotex in my bras if there is excessive bleeding.  But bleeding is a good sign.

Recall. I did already invite you into my weird world.


I am exhausted.  I am up way too late if I am to work tomorrow.  I felt earlier that I would have to quit my new job because of this.  But like so many moments in a woman’s life, with the right bra and the right attitude, (haha), maybe I can make this work. 

But I have to say, I do wish I had my friends here.  I admit it would help a lot.  I wish I had one of my nearest and dearest to look at me and help me laugh right now.
I am a little sad.  I am tired, on many levels.  But I know my blessings to count.  I know. I know.

Good Night and Happy Halloween

Well smiley cakes and ZIP IT UP and ZIP IT DOWN!

 (that was a Chapelle reference…anyone? anyone?)

Literally, “smiley-cakes” is a word that came to mind as I left the Mary Ellen Locher Breast Center at Memorial Hospital today. Golly Gee and Happy Me and Sunshine and Kittens (strike that, their cute but I’m deathly allergic) Puppies and
there she is, that skippy kinda Jen, that giddy incessantly smiling Jen, an inch taller than usual, or an inch off the ground,
or four, five, six inches taller than most of this summer, this hunched and cloudy clouded angry summer, this hole this pit this upward climb in wet mud muck arms tied behind me kind of a summer…this back handed slap of a summer…this walking a tight rope unable to stretch out my arms to balance for cradling aching breast and shoulders and someone keeps plucking my rope, this PLUCK YOU sort of a summer…
A summer of such hellish lows in my heart and mind,
hhheeeaaavvyyyyyy siiiiigh
ew you memories dwell not, visit brief and fleeting for stories do tell 
and off again to pages, files, things recorded but unfeeling
and then the brightest of bright moments, intermittent, but there! You know who you are you STARS in my black summer nights…you stars in my life, in the movie of my life, my summer flop! Haha!  You are the stars that kept it going, kept me going, then glowing. You know who you are, you heroes’ hands reaching out, extra far because I couldn’t even give you mine, 
You know who you are, remembering me, here

A week and a day ago, I was on the table again, IVed and anesthetized, once again having my chest exposed, emptied and filled again like a recyclable piñata. My fun bags. They took out the expanders. I have heard and read other women call these devices devices of torture. You don’t know, you can’t know. I heard there’d be pressure. I had no idea. For months, my ribs were methodically, progressively, crushed, my breath stolen. 
“No Brando”, I’d look down at my dog, looking back at me with “don’t you love me anymore?” eyes, unable to pick him up or even sit with him sometimes, the pain would be so constant and bad, my body sensitive to the slightest touch, the thought of movement.  It felt like a scene in a disaster movie, a person stuck under a fallen beam or boulder…go..on….without…me….uuuuhhhh

A week and day ago I was expecting to wake up in agony, again. My body is tolerating pain meds differently these days. Sickly. No good. And even if it’s not as bad as the last surgery, it’s still surgery. It’s still people routing around under my skin, in my muscles and stuff    scalpels and tubes and sutures, Oh My!   Pre-op was comical. The nurses were funny and as gossipy and distracted by each other as hairdressers. Memorial is so much more formal. Erlanger is like surgery camp. They screwed up my IV the first time and blew the vein. “Oh well shewt!” with a heavy southern drawl says the ladynurse trying. Eventually, I am ignoring the various rerouting of needles, by various nurses and doctors, into my right hand, (the left hand is not allowed, no sticky-sticky since the nodes have been removed from that side…shame, since I have swollen blue rivers for veins over there) into what we have realized are compromised veins due to the paralysis of my hand all summer, DUE FREAKIN TO the first surgery of the summer. I am looking left, averting my view of the mining of my hand, and delving into “Seeoooowuh, yer uh dant-ser, rahht?…wuh’d you think o’ Black S(uh)wan?”
There are a handful of people that know the reaction this question might evoke in me. And I am not exaggerating the accent of the nurse.
Blissfully, (as blissful as anything can be to one having not eaten or had water for half a day and having people digging around in you while making “oops” like sounds) nurse Sherry goes on a riff against crappy-ass medical shows and movies…”We’re all, like, no one just flat lines all of a sudden! Oh yeh, grab the d-fibs! Right! Whatever!”
I love Sherry.
I’m all, “And if she’s doing fuetes, why are we just watching her FACE!?”
And it went back and forth as I channeled nerves or fear or pain into this conversation while my right arm stayed Zen still, being worked on like Luke Skywalker’s.
Did I really just make that reference?

A week and a day have gone by. I am not allowed to sleep on my side, I am not allowed to pick up anything, to run, to walk briskly, to exist carelessly. Aw, but I can breathe. I can sit and stand without making my mother and father wince as I “nmnmnmnmnmnmnmmnm…uuuh”. I am not supposed to reach for things, but I can without pain. I can wash my face in the sink, bring water to my mouth after brushing my teeth…without pain. No, really. When it decided to hurt, it hurt to do EVERY THING.

I went in for my follow up, today. My week and a day, follow up. I drove myself. I got dressed up. Well, gee, sure. It’s fallish outside. I put on the dress I bought to wear to New York after I started chemo. I bought it go with my boots that I bought to go with leather jacket that I bought to go with the rock star sunglasses that I bought to go with my rock star bald head. Boots, belt, hat, cute, let’s go to the boob doctor.

I got to the hospital. I walk in, and I feel the oddest looks on me. The sick people, the couples, mostly men with sick wives or mothers, looking at me like I don’t belong. Oh, yes, I remember, it’s a Tuesday at Mary Ellen Locher! The plastic surgeon is here on this day. His regular office is at Erlanger, a few miles away. But on Tuesday, they occupy MEL.

So, this means that occasionally, in this waiting room meant mainly for breast cancer patients, we might see one of Dr. B’s “other” patients.

I have heard them talking in the rooms next to me, as I wait in paper top, dangling feet; discussing the progression of liposuction and wrapped thighs and boob jobs similar and not at all similar to my own. I know the women that are here for having been sick, and mutilated, detest these women. They come in with jewelry and heels and leopard something’r other. They are never subtle.
The vibe in this room is usually fear and/or a bond between battlers, supportive…pink.
I have a split second of feeling like I should apologize. But I am not sick. I am not in pain. I have every right to be in this waiting room. 
All by myself.
With all theses sick people around me, who are looking at me…wrong….
I can’t help feeling happy. Make no mistake, friends, I am a card-carrying member of the little pink club. Likely I was here before any of you!  I’ve been in here with my knit hat and favorite blanket. Oncology is one flight up. Wanna know my favorite chemo chair?!

And then cool nurse Brandy comes to beckon me to the back. She always calls me Buddy. She says I look adorable. She scolds me for carrying a backpack. (living dangerously). My visit goes well. Dr. B looks me over, squeezes this and that, says everything seems to be healing perfectly. Perfectly…but…the swelling on the right side, that’s normal. That will go down a bit. There are different “materials” in either side so they will “settle” differently. The bruising is normal. Come see me in three weeks? He poses it like a question, as if I’d say, “Well, let me check my calendar…”  He gives me a list of al the things I am not allowed to do for a month, and then BYE!
He swooshes out.

My buddy Brandy starts snipping the suture loops that are left at the end of the incisions. She knows that I have a bit of concern with the slight unevenness of my girls.

Please, keep in mind, that after an amputation and lying down to be burned, repeatedly for 7 weeks in a row until my skin blistered and muscle and tissue was destroyed, I never thought I’d look remotely normal again. And here I am, I am being picky about slight unevenness. 

Brandy snips away and says to me how great I look. She stops to make the point that not all women who have mastectomies end up looking this good.
(this good)
(end up…oof)

 “Just remember, they’re not twins, they’re sisters.”

“Thayer naahht tuhweeeins, Thayer seesters.”

I’m given my file to take to scheduling, and my official card. My implant card. Holy shit, I really AM a card-carrying member!

The patients have given the stink eye today, but all the staff have complimented me. They know me, they’ve all been here for my whole ride. The gal who schedules my next appointment says, “You look so pretty. You always look so cute, I just love seeing you come in.”
Don’t underestimate the impression of these compliments given the environment, the REASON that I am here in this pink place in the first place. It is sweet and lovely and I’ll take it! And also, I am not sick. I am not those other patients…anymore. I am HAPPY about that! I feel for them, but I am strutting out of here today, long bouncy strides, with a thumbs up from the doc, no one holding doors for me, trying to help me to the car and saying “you can sleep on the way home, Baby.” I am all good, bitches!

I get in my car….my cute little yellow Volkswagon bug, with my cute new slightly uneven boobies and my cute little hat and my sassy boots and my smile and my eyes sparkling like they do when I feel this way, and I turn on the radio and it’s Green Day singin’ "…hope you had the tiiiiime of your liiiiife.” I laugh out loud. (That’s LOL for those of you who have never seen it that way).  I usually have my radio on NPR, but since my antennae fell off in the car wash, I don’t get it in certain areas any more.  sad face.  So I had just hit seek shortly before turning into the underground parking lot I know so well. didn’t even think about it.
When I turn on my car, I am usually expecting Robert, Anne, Michelle, or Robin; and the words missile, or misSILE, car bomb, debt ceiling or some random yet enlightening interview on 
F r e s h  A i r.
After Green Day, they sure did throw out some Tears For Fears. I am driving better than I am singing, but tempted to press the gas. The windows are down and I am a moment in motion. 

precious, pitiful, priceless, pointless...poignant

While helping my parents clean out the attic (oh, the things we keep hidden away in boxes...unused and unseen and unnoticed for years). I found some old letters. ..er, rather, copies of old letters. I am quite sure I sent them to the intended parties, in actual envelopes, not email...but I suppose I felt the need to keep copies of a couple of  'em tucked away in a box with French homework, my old, used pointe shoes, and an outfit for a Kermit doll...the naked Kermit was not to be found. 
This letter, written fifteen/sixteen years ago, was written to a boyfriend at the time. (I've left out the boyfriendy parts) 

I wonder if he, (do you know who you are? will you ever read this...again?) will remember it? 

Okay, this is truly random ---- Last night I dreamt of the day I found out my mom had Cancer.  It was an awful dream.  But ya know what…when I woke up, I realized, as hard as I try, I cannot remember that day.  The dream was not at all how it really happened.  And I have absolutely no idea why I dreamt about it.  Even weirder…when my parents told me, (I can’t even remember if they both told me, or just my dad, or my mom, or what), I do know it was at my grandmother’s house in Atlanta.  But it was the same house where, when I was about seven or eight, that my father told me there was no Santa Clause.  All I can see when I try to remember the Cancer part, is my daddy trying to tell me that Santa isn’t real.  That Santa isn’t alive at all.  When you hear that, it isn’t just that something doesn’t exist, it’s like a little part of you dies.  But you keep this stubborn brave face, like you knew it all along, or like it’s perfectly okay and you can handle it.  The same day my dad told me that, Brent, my older brother took me in the back room, (my mom’s room when she was a little girl, a little ballerina, the second story of the house, in the woods, out her windows all you see are tree limbs and leaves and I bet she thought she felt like she lived in a tree house), and he tried to tell me that there really was a Santa.  At the time, I was so mad at him, knowing he was a liar.  Later I think I realized he just didn’t want to see the fantasy end.  I wonder how my dad picked that day, that afternoon, that place and time.  What were the circumstances that finally turned “we should tell Jenny” into actually telling her?  I don’t remember any other part of that day, except that it was sunny.  But I don’t remember any of the Cancer day at all.  Isn’t that strange?  And why did this hit me, out of the blue?  Is it a sign?  A reality check?  Perspective?  Completely random?  …..it’s been six years and I haven’t dealt with it yet…why now?


Where IS that Kermit?

and later there was a full moon

 It is painfully beautiful outside today. The glittering glimmering light bouncing off and through the dancing leaves, sparkling white and yellow and white-gold like stars happening and the perfect perfect blue behind them, crystal clear, unbelievable, I want to drink it, be it, touch it, dissolve into it. how the breeze bends the whole wood like a chorus, cambré graceful and summer majestic, and a quiet chaos up top where the highest leaves celebrate the privilege of being closest to that blue, that perfect perfect blue. I can feel it I think. a perfect sky. I can feel it as though I was just born from it. We walk surrounded, shrouded by trees, thick and dense, yet each stands out to me right now. each individual characteristic, shape and size. some tall, some delicate, some still leaning at the strongers’ mercy after all our blustering spring storms. even as the chorus bows, these fallen won’t fall.
My brain buzzes at the ability to see everything at once. the breeze is not cooler than the temperature of the day. it just moves the comfort and lightness around us, just making it…more.  highlighting pleasure so subtly. There is green everywhere, greens and greens. with splashes of vibrant blossoms that are unbearable to see. it’s all too much. us;  I am walking my dog. This precious little button eyed creature as much teddy bear as puppy, prancing and nosing around, occasionally looking up at me, and then chasing a butterfly or a grasshopper. seriously. this would be cliché if not all together so spectacular. so peaceful. so inspiring. but I am not right inspired
I am sitting on a bench we recently put far out across the yard. wooden and cast iron, quaint and romantic. I asked to have it  put it here (unable to move it myself) because no one ever goes over here, far from the house and the stone patio my father created, the pond my father and brother built, the more concentrated landscaping and potted plants and where the children bike and skate and amaze us with chalk artwork forever disappearing with the rain or a washed car. It’s less manicured here around my bench, removed, reverse perspective, and it’s beautiful. a view none of us sees, none of us sees, save the ever disarmingly cute animal that is my dog, when he goes over there to hunt for squirrels that are nearly his size, and once found, terrify the wit out of him. wit in the singular only as opposed to plural…not Wit, as to imply there is a Wilde side to him that is overcome by fear of a beastly bushy-tailed rodent. It is simply the one wit. Anyway, I don’t think he really appreciates the view. I need a Bronte with me on this bench, or Keats, or, gee, Milne. smile. It is just that sort of a day, Piglet. or perhaps just my own notebook. I swear the animals are about to gather around and let me read to them, or sketch them.
this is hell.
I want to freeze it as much as I want to walk through it. I want to escape this as much as I want to saunter over every inch of our property, in bonnet and corset, or overalls and boots, (but please no more bandages and tubes and hidden wounds) through the blueberry bushes and wild flowers, around the pool, down to the creek, step on every stone path dispersed throughout that my father laid painstakingly to look as natural yet inviting as possible…past the path in the woods that runs from here to my brother’s house, on which I have watched my nephew…then my nephew and my niece…then my niece and two nephews walk hand in  hand to come visit us at Gramma’n’Pop’s house (where Aunt Jenny seems to be a fixture),  and go home. All at once I am in a state of such natural bliss, and so agitated with myself that I can’t claim it, hold it, save it…share it. I am not emotional. I am in my mind in motion. and I am still. A broken heart is mending. a sick and broken body is, too. Days like this, so magnificent, to the shaken and bruised, can be therapeutic and motivating as much as they can be the bittersweet essence of things fleeting, the unrealness of a perfect day. moments of lightness suddenly taunted and threatened by an absence, an UN-THING, a person not there. Him. that Me. Them. …it.
and so I think. and so it passes. and so I stop. and feel it. my sky. my perfect sky. I have been cut all over, cut open and had my insides twisted around and myself forcibly deformed and reshaped; left paralyzed and bleeding and leaking for months, felt pain I couldn’t have imagined. prolonged. literally and metaphorically. I let the doctors do it to me one way. I had meetings, while I was half naked, in a paper blousette thingy, sitting upright and holding in my stomach as though that would make my cancer look nicer…and they, in pants and shirts and belts and comfortable shoes (for all the patient seeing in a day you see takes a toll) and extra coats with sidekicks and I signed forms and said go ahead, do as you please.
It’s so ideal. outside right now. on my bench. I blink at the flickering canopy. this is a gorgeous day. my skin feels flawless, other worldly in this air. I don’t have skin. I am the air. the blue blue blue blue blue sparkly leaves. He did it to me without my permission. It was a cure for his unhappiness.
But he cut me, twisted my heart and my mind. he knew what he was doing, as much as the doctors did. the doctors were there when I woke up. he wasn’t. he left me to bleed. left. left. left me paralyzed. in pain I couldn’t have imagined. so so confused. and I miss him today. I miss him on this bench. I don’t want to. I want to be content here by myself. But I can’t when I miss him, because he is here. he is here and not here all at once. and he’s content to be so. and my puppy bounces, and I walk a bit towards the house, from my bench, and I feel…nothing. Oh but it isn’t bad. it isn’t a cold lack of love or light. I’m not sad.  it is like nature. the way those flashing dancing leaves and the breeze and the grass and the strong trees and the leaning resting trees and the view itself all don’t feel. I am not sad. I am not happy. I am pleased, and pleasant. And then I look at my sky. my rich and glorious sky, and I can feel it. I can feel it. And I do believe with all my heart that there is happiness in this blue, or maybe hopefulness. And it may rain tonight, or tomorrow. I know those skies. But I do feel something now. I feel hope. clean, infinite, crystal blue, flying soaring peaceful