Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Update from Atlanta

Hi, everyone. Amy here. After a long day in Atlanta, Becky is out of surgery and in her room at the hospital. The surgery went well and she is fine. I'm told that a popsicle has been consumed, which is always a good sign. (Consumed by Becky, I mean. Although maybe we should all have one.)

The surgeon told them that the "sentinel lymph node" on that side tested positive for tumor cells. It, along with some other lymph nodes nearby have been removed and sent for biopsy. As a result, Becky will need chemotherapy. We will know more about that soon. More updates to follow, I'm sure.

Beck will of course spend tonight in the hospital, and Matt will stay with her. Dad tells me there is a foldout chaise for him to sleep on. I'm hoping Becky feels well enough to take some Iphone pics of that, 'cause I'm trying to picture all 6 feet and 5 inches of Matt fitting on a foldout chaise.

We are all so blessed by all your prayers and good wishes. And I know that Beck is reading them all. So keep those cards and letters coming, folks. We have lots of hope for a positive outcome, but we are all realizing that this will be a longer road than we'd hoped for. We'll keep you posted.

Love to all.

Monday, March 29, 2010


My surgery is finally tomorrow, Tuesday, at 1:00. I don't like it when I no longer have a time buffer between me and unpleasant events. Like, all weekend I thought, "Oh, it's three more wake-ups," or two more wake-ups. I think the guys in Platoon counted that way? I'll spend the night in the hospital tomorrow night and hopefully come home sometime Wednesday.

Actually I want it to happen and be over. I am so worn out from worrying about it, dreading it, being distracted from it, being reconciled to it, thinking and not thinking about it, and just plain waiting for it. Just get off my horizon and happen already.

I never did tell y'all about my meeting with the plastic surgeon, a friendly lady who seems very good. She's well thought-of by everybody I've talked to, anyway. So I didn't realize that they wouldn't put an implant in right at the same time as the mastectomy. I thought that's what "mastectomy with reconstruction" meant. Like, all the doctors would stand around and say, "Gentlemen, we can rebuild her." Or "Ladies," in this case, 'cause it's a hen party up in that OR. What they actually do is put something called an expander in, which is like an implant that can be filled with saline little by little. I still don't totally understand why they can't go right to implant because it's not like I'm trying to recreate a D cup here, but she said they almost never do that. They swap in the implant in a whole 'nother surgery down the road somewhere. So, okay. I complained to Matt, "It's just that I keep finding out this is going to take longer than I thought."

Also in the plastic surgeon's office, a nurse who is also that surgeon's patient showed me her reconstruction. She sent Matt out of the room and talked to me, then she showed me her boobs. I thought, "Wow, I'm getting a lot for that $35 copay!" She was a sweetheart, truly, and she looked good too.

Another nice thing about the plastic surgeon's office was that her robes are fluffy terry. Again with the almost-but-not-quite spa experience.

Then they took some of the least flattering photos of me that have ever been taken. The lighting was just impossible.

So now I know basically what's going to happen in there tomorrow, and I just have to go and do it. Somebody around these parts, if not me, will update you guys. I know that you guys are reading and hanging in with me and wishing me well. Even if we haven't met, your love and caring is as real to me as if you lived next door. So thank you for that. I will see you on the flip side!

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Cowee View

We got back from the weekend at the mountain house tonight. My mom and dad were up there, and Dave and Kate drove down from DC. For an instant party, add hot tub water. Or vodka.

How did I not take any pictures of anything? Nevertheless, here are some good things that happened:
  • I got to listen to Dave play the guitar for a while, and we sang along. You know that Tom Petty song that goes, "One more time down South/I'm gonna find my daddy's mistress/Gonna ask for her forgiveness/Gonna pay off every witness"? Love that.
  • We hiked up to the top of the ridge and looked over both sides. Then on the way down, just as my toes were sliding into the fronts of my shoes and I was in danger of getting a blister, Dad appeared and drove me back to the house.
  • Then I took a two-hour hot tub with Laura and Katie. Two hours and two beers.
  • I slept until 11:00 both mornings.
  • Laura read aloud from Little House in the Big Woods to Hank and me.
  • Kate gave me a box filled with beauty goodies, including some Kiehl's stuff and this awesome Laura Mercier eye brightener. I am ALL ABOUT the eye brightener.
  • I started a new book of Ron Rash short stories that Mom and Dad gave me, plus Zeitoun, plus I actually looked at every page of three magazines.
Long story short, it was a typical great weekend up there. One bit of it I was trying to put into words for myself: Friday night was clear and the moon was bright. In the bedroom we sleep in, there is a door to the back porch, down on the bottom level. Late at night, Matt got out of bed to let the dog out, and he stood there for a minute with the door cracked. Where he had been in bed, there was a big patch of moonlight on the white sheet. I opened my eyes and looked at it, and the light on the bed combined with the rush of cool air from the open door seemed like a completely new thing, just a combination of sensations that was strange in its forcefulness--so strange I almost forgot where and who I was. It was an uncanny thing, a mixture of startling and familiar, a fresh impression, newly arriving. My instant thought was, "Oh! Where has this moment been?" And I thought about how much I love my life and all the parts of it.

Do you ever have those moments? And I swear that I was not drunk.

And I'm not drunk now. Though Matt just went out and bought me ice cream, and now he is cleaning the kitchen, and the pleasure of all that is making me feel a little lightheaded. I hope y'all had a loverly weekend. Muchas smooches from the conkisstador.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Conspiracy Guy Mystery Solved

The Foster Children came to my door again Friday afternoon and asked for Hank to come out. I said that he was getting ready to go to the mountains, but that if it was okay with their dad, they could come in and say hi to him for a few minutes. The little one said, "We're not allowed to come in because of we played that video game. Those games are about killing. We don't like killing."

Okay. Well actually we do not like killing either in this house.

A few times I let them play a little xbox game called Castle Crashers, which has cartoon knights who run around chopping an assortment of bad guys. One of the bad guys is a giant ear of corn who spawns killer popcorn kernels. Grisly.

The only thing about the game that offends my sensibilities is that there are cartoon deer in it who poop sometimes. Gratuitous cartoon animal pooping. To Hank, this is the most High-Larious Thing of All Possible Things That Have Ever Happened on Earth. So I turn a blind eye.

Keep in mind that this guy is a person who regularly has no idea where his kids are. But it is easier to forbid the kids to come in my house than to say to me, "Hey, would you not let the girls play that game? It makes them bonkers at home," or something.

Because I am a polluter of children's minds.

We are already in North Carolina, 'til Sunday night. I hope you have a lovely weekend. Keep sweet!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


(Remember the leg lamp in Christmas Story?)

That's how I've felt the last day or so. Not Italian, fragile. I think that I've been so focused on figuring out that I am ultimately going to survive all this, and figuring out what all is going to be involved in that, that I was somewhat numbed to all the bad stuff that is going to happen first. In fact, I think I even said the words, to someone, "I don't even mind about the mastectomy," or "I don't even mind if I have chemotherapy," because I just want to live. And of course I do want to live and I will.

But I do mind about the mastectomy, it turns out. I do mind. Some part of me that had been in a daze since I got this diagnosis snapped out of it last night, and I was like, "Oh what in the HELL." And I felt really sad about it, all at once. Not sad about cancer, not sad about the bigger picture, just sad about that surgery and what it does. And all of Matt's reassurances--that I will always look great, that he will always love me, that none of it is even a tiny bit important to him--as sustaining as they are, those reassurances are not currency in the place where I am sad. In that place, this mastectomy feels like an injury to my four year-old self, and the nine year-old me, and me at fifteen, twenty one--all the little me's that I've carried through all the years and that I still see every time I look in the mirror.

I called my sister and cried about it, and I felt a little better.

Then today, once the day got underway, I was busy and distracted. I went to meet a new gynecologist this afternoon. Or new to me. He went to the same college Matt and I did, though four years earlier, which was a little weird. And I thought he was kind of cute. Really cute, actually. Is that wrong? And whereas I usually get through gynecological exams by thinking of that joke about the old lady and the glitter hairspray, today for some reason, into my brain popped one of my favorite George W. Bush-isms ever. He was talking about high malpractice insurance rates, and he said that because of the cost, "Too many OB/Gyns aren't able to practice their . . . their love with the women." Do you remember that? Oh man, thinking of that made me smile. W, that lovable loon! I wonder what he's up to?

And after the appointment I asked for, and was given, a lollipop.

Tomorrow afternoon we are heading to the mountain house, but I will try to pop in before then. Isn't there some kind of good junk on Thursday night TV? I'm going to go try to find it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Think I May Have Offended Conspiracy Guy

My neighbor two houses over is a stay-at-home dad and amateur kook I call Conspiracy Guy. His two little girls, aka My Foster Children, are knocking on our door or roaming in our yard several times a week. I (almost) always welcome them with open arms because they keep Hank entertained. They are mostly past the age where they spill things and wet their pants, so this arrangement works fine, even if they always arrive starving. They also answer my every instruction or correction with, "Why?" Which I do not find charming in a child unless its mine and then it's a sign of burgeoning critical reasoning abilities.

Hank is big enough now that I'll let him run across the yards to their house and knock on their door to see if they want to come out and play. I'll stand on the porch and watch him go and come back. I always tell him, "Don't go into their house, just ask them to come play outside or at your house." Well it isn't that I'm dead set against his being in their house. It's just a combination of a few things: he hasn't been invited over; I have never stepped more than a few feet into their house and don't know that they don't have loaded guns lying around, or stacks of John Birch Society literature; and I just don't know how well he would be supervised over there. He is three and I am territorial over him.

Well, I don't know what he may have said at their doorstep about "I'm not supposed to come inside" or something, but lately the little girls have taken to ringing our doorbell and then refusing to enter. They want Hank to come out, but they protest, loudly, "We're not allowed to come inside!" Or if one of them does enter the dreaded house, her sister calls her back as though she's on the edge of a volcano. They have been coming over since the littlest one was two (yes, a two year-old was allowed to wander around supervised by her four year-old sister and to go to the neighbor's to "play"), so this is a new development. And yesterday their dad kinda gave me the stink eye when I was talking to another neighbor at my front door.

They have been playing outside a lot with one of the Mystery Daughters, which is odd 'cause that girl is nine, and the foster children are 4 and 6.

Oh Conspiracy Guy, how hath I offended thee? I canst not tell, but I shall have to fry thy fish another day.

Anyway, that's what's good in the hood.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Liberty of London for Target: My Haul

Liberty of London for Target
Six pillows, the duffel purse, an acrylic tray, two acrylic boxes, a flower pot, a bra and panties, and a sundress (on the bench).

You knew this post was coming, right? I will say that this Liberty of London stuff caught me at a very vulnerable time. But still I showed restraint. At first. For example, the first time I went to Target after some of the Liberty had been put out on the shelves, I brought home exactly one acrylic tray, two acrylic boxes, a flower pot, a bra and panties, and one pillow. Okay it sounds like a lot, but the part I want you to focus on is the ONE PILLOW. One lonely pillow! It was one of the peacock blue ones above, and I thought, "You don't really go with my house but you're so pretty, I can't just leave you here." And twenty dollars! I mean, it's a lot of pillow for twenty dollars, what with that flange, and the piping, and the velvet back. So I brought it home and sat it in one of the extra chairs in my dining room where I could look at it for a while.

Then every dang time I went to Target, all the pillows were still there, despite being adorable and sold out online. Finally I was like, "FINE." So I bought all the ones I loved, figuring that I'd do something with them or sell them on ebay. But really, there are so many pillows in my life. Just so many. Today I took four back to the store (see what maturity?), and these six are the survivors.

Liberty Pillows

Liberty of London Duffel
This is one of my favorite prints. I also got a blouse in this. Okay so not everything is in the picture.

If you're still looking for some of the Liberty things, it looked like my store had done a restock today. Maybe yours has too. Some stuff I had never yet seen had appeared on the shelves, like this purse and some of the ceramics. Other stuff:

Liberty Bra

Liberty Men's Stuff

My overall review of this collection is that it's gorgeous, but I don't think every bit of it is equally wonderful. I was looking at the little ceramic teapots today, and on half of them the lids were so wonky that they wouldn't sit on the pots. Buyer beware on that stuff. The sets of three nesting prep bowls were great, but I only have so much cabinet space. The gardening stuff was cute but seemed a little gimmicky to me. Of course, I don't garden. The bedding sets were pretty, but I am up to here in bedding. Also, the sets had comforters rather than duvet covers, so not as exciting to me. I really wondered why there were no table linens. That's the missing piece. I liked the candles and the stationery, but I've passed them up several times so I guess they're not for me.

What seemed really special to me: the acrylic trays (you will use those forever) and the pillows. The bra I got also seemed like a very characteristic Liberty print. And I got it to cheer up my boobs, so that's a medical expense. Obviously.

So, since I made my last major foray, my mother-in-law has been on the hunt in her Targets in Chattanooga. She has nabbed me four ceramic mugs, the sheath dress (in the gold pattern) and the matching coat. OMG the coat. They aren't pictured because I don't yet have them in my hot little hands. That dress on the bench has an elastic tube top and ruffles all the way down. I look like a one-woman rhumba contest. Whatevs. I have the perfect shoes to go with it.

I was a little disappointed that most of women's clothing was not cotton, but poly-ish, which seems strange for Liberty. So I got this men's shirt, in a size L for big shirtedness.

Liberty Men's Shirt

Here I'm wearing it with a shawl my aunt made me, and I think it is a sort of modern granny look. That's my jam.

So what of the Liberty stuff did y'all get, or what do you still want to get? What seemed really special or unspecial to you? I am all ears.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pretty Much Making This Up As I Go

On Friday the weather was totally gorgeous here, and I sat out in the backyard and read my Country Living while Laura worked on her clubhouse. The clubhouse is slowly being painted with craft paint, and is having inspirational slogans Sharpie'd on its walls. Slogans like, "Save the pandas!" It also has a chandelier made of camellia branches.


So I hadn't yet told Laura about all this breast cancer stuff, but I thought it was time to fill her in. I have a surgery date now (March 30) and I hadn't wanted to bring it up before there was a definite plan to tell her. I had seen a book at the bookstore on "how to talk to your kids about your illness," but I thought, "I don't have time to read a book about this. I know this girl and I'm going to wing it." Which is pretty much what I've been doing all nine years of her life.

I knew that I didn't want to do it as a big family meeting scene. I wanted it to be more casual, just a normal, low-key mother-daughter thing. So I called her over from her clubhouse and she sat on my lap. Which is funny because she is huge.

I told her that I'd been to the doctor a couple of times lately and that I had a tumor in my breast that had to be taken out. I didn't use the 'c' word, she has no experience with that term. I told her that if it weren't taken out, it would just keep growing and make me sick. She said, "Is that serious or is it just a normal thing?" I told her that it definitely wasn't normal and that it had to be fixed. Then I told her pretty much exactly what the surgery was and the reconstruction and everything. She said that it was like when you have your leg amputated and get an artificial leg, and I said yes.

It was hard to steer a course between not scaring her and misleading her into thinking it was trivial. I told her that I hoped the surgery would completely fix the problem and that I wouldn't have to do anything else afterwards, like get more medicine, but that I didn't know, and sometimes people had to do that.

Her only frame of reference for surgery is an emergency bowel resection her grandma had, so she said, "Remember Grandma's surgery, that was way more serious, right?" I said yes, in a way, because that had been an emergency and Grandma had been in the hospital for a week, and that operation was much harder to recover from than this one would be. I didn't know how to go into Grandma's surgery being a total fix, versus the uncertainty of my situation, so I just left it where it was.

I told her that the hardest part for her and Hank might be when I was home and not feeling good after the operation, but I laid it on thick with reassurances that lots of people would be around helping us with everything. She did not seem overly troubled or upset.

She asked me, "Are you going to tell Hank about this?" I said, "What do you think I should tell him?" She said that telling him about it would "make him freak out" and that I shouldn't tell him about it until I was home and the surgery was over. I said I didn't think that would work, but that I would wait until the night before and then tell him I'd be at the doctor's the next day, and that Grandma and Papa would take care of him until I got back. We agreed that three year-olds don't have enough grasp of time for me to bring it up way in advance.

Then Matt stepped out on the back porch and Laura said to him, "I know." So she did get that what I was telling her was important, and I think she even felt privileged to be in on the information. I think the whole talk went great, and she hasn't seemed at all worried since then.

Other stuff about this weekend: shortly after that scene in the backyard, I got a text from Normal Neighbor that said, "I'm having drinks on my back deck with Kathy and Cathy, do you want to come over?" I was like, oh honey I am so on my way. It was just such a mild, sunny day that everyone wanted to be outside. I walked around the corner carrying my phone and four Corona lights in my hands. It was a parade of class. Then I just walked around her house and went up to the back. Back door friends are special and all. Kathy and Cathy are two other neighbors I know slightly. After they got filled in on my boob situation, the K(C)athies dished up some tennis league gossip, including stories of all the girls they knew who had left their husbands for other women. Good happy hour.

Yesterday, Matt and I took the kids up to the tennis courts and hit balls for an hour or so. Then I took Laura to see Alice in Wonderland, which I thought was just okay. I don't know if it was boring or if I was just really tired, but I fell asleep for part of it. Definitely the only time in my life I've fallen asleep while wearing 3D glasses.

Today it is raining, and Matt cleaned out the fridge and washed all the shelves. He is my white knight. I swept and mopped the wood floors, because Fabienne just does this "squirt Murphy's Oil soap and then damp mop" thing and my needs for shiny floors are not being met. I mean, that's fine for a routine mopping, but at a certain point, there is dirt on the floor that is just being pushed around by that half-assery. Something needs to be done to transfer the dirt from the floor to another receptacle. Something involving a real mop and a bucket of hot water.

My mom and dad are arriving tonight to help with the kids tomorrow, and I have a meeting with a plastic surgeon. Matt has met all of my tentative murmurings about also having a chin tuck or other cosmetic improvements with stony silence. Men.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I Got My Hair Did

New hairdid.

On Wednesday evening I went to the salon and spa place at Lifetime Fitness, where I usually get my hair done. The girl I go to has developed this three-color, Neopolitan ice cream thing she does to my head--highlights, lowlights, midlights (?), I don't know. It was well overdue, as you could see in my post the other day.

When I checked in at the salon, they told me that my amazing new sister-in-law, Robin, had called them and gotten me a gift certificate. It covered my hair, it will cover a massage and more, and I think it would cover having the aestheticians come paint my house. I was beyond tickled. Just awesome. And then I enjoyed a two-hour conversation with my stylist about all the amazing health properties of many different berries. Maybe some good advice in there. Also the conversation was about how she still can't stand her husband and if he misses his flight he better not call her from the airport because he can just deal with it on his own. Or how maybe they can just get a duplex with a washer and dryer in the middle and live in separate halves, because she will never fall out of love with him, but she is getting too old for his crap.

While we're looking at my hair, I will tell you that I am terrible at taking pictures of myself in the mirror. Like, I took probably twenty pics of myself in an attempt to get my whole head in the frame. It got to be funny. Here's the only other one that worked.

hair with wallpaper

Note the crazy eyes. But really I wanted to show you this wallpaper in my bathroom. Are you having a total Charlotte Perkins Gillman moment? (Your homework for the day is to click that link and read that story, if you didn't read it in Freshman English, 'cause it is a corker.) When we first moved in to this house, I couldn't decide if the wallpaper was pretty or ugly, so I decided it was pretty, and we called the bathroom the domus aurea, because it is kind of crazy huge. Huge in that mid-nineties-big-bathroom-fad kind of way. Now, almost four years in, it is getting on my nerves. I can see things in it. The Gillman story explains what I mean:
It [the pattern] is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide--plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions.
Matt and I agree that we can see strange bulbous fruits in there, and mosquito-like things, and weird scaphoid shapes. I've decided it's not pretty. But as much as I like color and pattern, I'm kind of terrible at picking out paint and stuff. Anybody have a bathroom that you love? It is a project for the future, definitely.

I have not been good about getting in and responding to y'all's comments, but I read them at many points in the day, and they make me feel so much better. And then my mom or dad will call me and say, "Did you see what so-and-so said? How nice!" And I say, "Yes, it's like they really like me or something!" I appreciate all your good thoughts and prayers so much. I am just doing normal stuff, and enjoying it, but I was telling Matt, it's like the days go on so long that it's hard to be brave all day and not crack a little bit. So I do, some. Last night Pretty Neighbor came over and we watched that movie about Vogue, The September Issue. That was good. We also ate honest-to-God potato chips. Decadence!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Well, Fudge

Yesterday morning I went to my mega-appointment with the breast people. (If you missed the first part of this story, pick up the thread here.) Matt and I got there just after 6am and stayed until after noon. We were finished talking to the surgeon BEFORE THE SUN ROSE. I am not kidding. There is nothing like getting a jump on the day, you know. The surgeon is an older lady who seems super-competent, but she's also warm in a no-nonsense kind of way. She put up a lot of images from my mammogram and ultrasound and talked to us about them. At this point, the student in me took over and I was just interested. She pointed out something about how part of the mass looks spiky-shaped, and I found myself saying, "Yes, that looks bad," and I forgot for a moment that I was talking about myself.

She told me that I would have an MRI that day and more xray and ultrasound to be sure, but she thought we were dealing with a bigger tumor than the previous report showed. Only a small part of it was palpable, the little lump that sent me in to be checked in the first place. But more of it was visible on mammogram. The takeaway from this part of the discussion is that a lumpectomy is not happening. She said that because of its size, and the fact that I don't have a lot of boob to begin with, that it would not have a good result, in cosmetic terms. So we are talking about a mastectomy, with reconstruction at the same time. Also she thought a couple of lymph nodes on that side looked abnormal, but they wouldn't know for sure until during the surgery.

Fuckity fuck fuck. As the poet says.

I was a little numb at this point but I was hanging in there, trying to process this information and all the different options she was talking about. Matt and I asked her a lot of questions. Apparently, if I wanted to throw all my energy into "breast conservation," that is, keeping as much of my boob intact as possible, doing chemotherapy for four months before surgery would be an option, in hopes of shrinking the mass into lumpectomy-range. Four months of chemo was just not something I wanted to say yes to. I asked her if there was a possible future in which I would have the mastectomy and need no follow-up. She said it was very possible, about "fifty-fifty."

So then I went off and had another mammogram just to check something on the opposite side (it was all clear), then an ultrasound, and then it was time to get ready for the MRI. I've never had one of those, but I thought it would be like an episode of House, where I'd lie on my back in a pool of greenish light while attractive young doctors worked out their personal problems behind the glass wall. Well, actually I had to get IV gadolinium and then lie on my stomach with my arms above my head, not moving, for thirty minutes. It was some kind of fancy breast MRI machine, so there were openings in the sliding drawer thingy for my boobs. Kind of like a massage table, except with extra openings. Oh, and no massage. Once again, the worst spa treatment ever. I am not a panicky or claustrophobic person, but even so, the sensation of being slid backwards into that machine was a little upsetting. Then the stillness. Oh the stillness and the not scratching of my nose. Then I zoned out.

I thought it would be funny if they got some plastic wrenches, toy chain, and plastic nails and stuck them to the side of the MRI machine. Maybe they've never thought of that. I forgot to mention it.

We left after six hours. I think we were both pretty wiped out. I know that I went home and took a three hour nap. Even after that, I was lacking in my usual zip. I noticed this because I was on the phone with my friend, I started a sentence, and I had to stop in the middle and rest, because the talking, how did I not ever notice how exhausting it is before? Always with the talking and saying words.

Normal Neighbor brought over lasagna and salad for everyone. She texted me beforehand, and I was like, "Everybody, hide last night's lasagna and DO NOT mention it!"

Today the surgeon called me to talk over the MRI. It had just confirmed what she suspected: a single mass, funny shaped, 4-5cm, two lymph nodes that look a little iffy. I quizzed her and she explained why a lumpectomy is not feasible. I have an appointment to meet a plastic surgeon on Monday. Matt is keen for surgery to happen as soon as possible, with or without reconstruction. He has told me this several times, that reconstruction is my decision and he knows it's important to me, but don't think it's important to him. But he has never been a boob man. Now, if I were dealing with butt cancer, this would be a whole different thing.

Today I felt fine, and Matt's mom and I went to Target and bought a lot of the Liberty of London stuff that I'd missed the first time. Kind of all of it, actually. So if you're looking for some of that, it's here at my house. Sorry! You will hear more about that, obvs. Thank you for all of your good thoughts and sweet words, my friends.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Here's What's Going on with Me

Well friends, here is news. About a month ago I was sitting around, as is my wont, and I felt a little lump in my right breast, right next to my nipple. If I had still been nursing Hank, I would have thought it was one of those little milk reservoirs. I noted it and then went about my life for a week. I mean, you know how boobs are, they seem to change from time to time throughout the month. The next week I noticed it again, and decided to go have it checked. Then three days later I actually did. I thought the nurse practitioner would say, "Oh, that's a so-and-so, no need to worry." What she actually did was to tell me to go have a mammogram, but not to freak out. She said that I needed a baseline anyway, because I am 37. Or as I like to think of myself, "barely 37."

That was on a Friday. The next Monday I went to the mammography place. Waiting for this to begin, I was still not really worried. The odds were that it would be nothing. And after the nurse gave me a kimono that she'd taken out of one of those blanket warmers, and I was reading magazines with the other kimono'd ladies, I felt a little like I was at a spa. Maybe waiting for a facial. But then the mammogram started and it was like the worst spa treatment ever. Then they asked me to wait with the magazines again. It was a different bunch of ladies and I no longer felt like I was enjoying a day of pampering. The tech came and got me and said that they wanted eight more pictures, and an ultrasound. If possible the second round of pictures was more uncomfortable than the first, as it included a fun thing called "spot compression." Then I was whisked to the ultrasound room. Or not whisked. Made to wait in my kimono some more.

Then the ultrasound tech did her thing with the ultrasound wand and the warm jelly. That took a little while, and I could see the monitor but nothing on it meant anything to me. Not like looking for the baby's little feet. Then she said, "Okay, I'm going to go get the radiologist and she's probably going to want to scan for herself." She left, and I lay there in the dark for fifteen minutes. I had the kimono and a towel and the cold jelly. I thought about my innocent clothes waiting in a locker. I thought it probably wasn't good that the radiologist wanted to come look for herself. I thought about Laura and Hank. This was a low point.

Finally the doctor came in and took a brief look and said, "We want you to go have a needle biopsy of this." Then she talked about ultrasound-guided biopsy and implanting a titanium chip with the biopsy needle, and then a mammogram to check the localization of the chip in comparison to the mass (we were calling it that now, a mass), and then a possible stereotactic biopsy if the chip didn't match up to the location of the mass. Confused? It took me a couple of run throughs to get it. I was still lying there with the towel and the jelly, and I felt like I'd lost about fifty IQ points. The doctor said something about calcifications, and I said, "You mean calcium like in bones?" I think she thought I was a little slow.

This was when my reality changed from "there is nothing wrong with me" to "there is maybe something wrong with me." It was one of the grimmest moments of this whole thing thus far. Somehow I got dressed and then the ultrasound tech was calling to schedule my biopsy for me. I told her that I couldn't do it Friday, because I had Laura's slumber party that night. Then I almost started to cry, but I pinched the web of skin between my thumb and index finger really hard with my other hand. I used my fingernails, and that helped. I did not want to walk out of there in tears.

A few days later, a week ago Thursday, I went to have the needle biopsy. Matt went with me. Everyone was great, the nurses were really caring and good. I admired them. Instead of leaving me alone in the dark, a nurse named Shelly came in and told me that the radiologist was delayed a little bit, then she talked to me about the Olympics. We covered them in minute detail. We were on to the possible underscoring of Johnny Weir's routine when the doc came in and got underway. Shelly held my hand.

(Remember that joke where the doctor says to the woman, "First I need to numb your breasts." "All right doctor, go ahead." So he goes, "Num num num num num!" It's an oldie but a goodie.)

I was still, even then, basically convinced that it would be nothing. I had just heard of so many people with lumps that turned out to be benign. They're boobs, they have stuff going on. The biopsy crew said that maybe the pathology results would be back Friday afternoon, the day of Laura's party, and I wouldn't have to wait the weekend. No such luck, Friday came and went. Then Monday came and went, with only apologies from Shelly and the other nurses. By now I thought, "Hmm. If it's a bad diagnosis, they will need multiple pairs of eyes to confirm it and it will take longer."

Is this the longest post ever?

So then it was Tuesday morning and I was dressed to go to tennis practice. I was opening the door for Fabienne the house cleaner when the phone rang, and it was the radiologist who'd done the biopsy. That's not good when the radiologist calls instead of the nurse. She pretty quickly got the word "unfortunately" out, and then I knew that I'd been wrong, and that I'd missed my last chance for it to be just nothing. I was listening to her talk, and I walked into Matt's office and made a thumbs-down sign. We crowded around the phone as she told me I needed to go get a surgical consult, then she asked me if I wanted to know what the pathology report said, and I was like, "Uh, YES." She told me to get a pencil, and I wrote down "ductal carcinoma in situ" and "infiltrating ductal carcinoma," low to intermediate grade.

I hung up and we were pretty shaky. It was ten o'clock on the nose, and I thought, "Tennis is starting without me." I called Normal Neighbor, who is the tennis captain, and told her I wasn't coming to practice and why. She had been waiting for word of the biopsy results. Then I told Fabienne, because she was standing right there at ground zero. So now the tennis team knew, and my house cleaner. To put it mildly, I knew this would save me the trouble of telling a great many people. Fabienne, who is very sweet, and very spiritual, started talking to me about the End Times, and how everything happens for a Reason, and how I would be a Testimony to the people around me. I wanted to tell her, "Fabienne, I am not really there just yet, I mean to the being a testimony part, but one thing you can do to help me right now is clean my house." What I actually did was thank her and nod some.

Forty-five minutes later, Hank was at Pretty Neighbor's and Matt and I were at our regular doctor's office, an internist. She was reading the report as she came into the room. We were keeping it together. I had never actually met this doc before because I always see the nurse practitioner. I love nurse practitioners and think that they secretly run most things. That nurse had done my last gyno and breast exam back in September. So the doctor was new to me. She was very, very comforting. She said that this mass is small, that it's early, and that I'm going to be fine. She said that if I could pick a breast cancer, this would be the one. She said that it will be a bump in the road. We listened with greedy ears to this reassurance. She said that she would be shocked if it had spread to a lymph node. While I was glad to hear that, I also know that we won't know that until they are in there. I feel like I have arrived at this point against the long odds that it would be benign, so who knows? Maybe I will just continue to blast through the barriers erected by probability. But I hope not and I hope she is right.

I know that worse things are happening to people every minute. I know this won't kill me.

She told me that I would have a surgical consult with these breast specialists--they're said to be the best in the biz--and that I would probably have a lumpectomy. The tricky part was that this was last Tuesday, and I couldn't get any earlier appointment with the surgeons than a week hence, tomorrow. It was a long, long week. Every day felt like a month. I had this sense that urgent action was needed, but there was really nothing to do. Or, there were plenty of things to do. Lots of acting normal was required. Which wasn't so hard. Matt and I are feeling worried, but not really down. Just, like, "Let's figure out what the next thing is and do it."

In the morning, early--like the crack of doom early--Matt and I are heading down to Northside Hospital to meet the surgeon and figure out a plan. And I will tell you all what it is. Matt's mom is here to look after the kids tomorrow, and she arrived surfing on an avalanche of food her friends had sent. Lasagna at our place, y'all.

Could this post please be longer please? I didn't have time to make it shorter. So that is the news from here. I know that some of you have dealt with this very thing before. I kind of hate delivering this news via blog, because if you read here regularly, then I feel that we are friends. And it's kind of a crap way to tell bad news to friends, but I wanted y'all to know. This morning I had breakfast with Michele, and then we got our nails done. That was very therapeutic. And I kind of bought a lot of things from that Liberty of London line at Target. I'm sure you will be hearing about that too.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I Went To See A Baby

Me with Carter

Baby Carter

Babies, who doesn't love 'em? Here is one right now, and this one is fresh and new. He is baby Carter, who is fast becoming one of the most blogged-about babies on the interwebs. (Take that, Marlo! I kid.) Seriously, his mom told me that she was determined to put up a post about him every day for the first week, so she wouldn't forget how he was changing. I am amazed that she's actually getting that done, but other people seem to handle the whole newborn thing better than I did. My hat is off to you, Kelly!

I truly think some people just handle the disruption of a first baby better than others. I would never have predicted that I would be less than good at it, but I must say, it really threw me for a loop, especially the first time. I just remember thinking that everything was different and I was different, and the baby wasn't feeding that well and I was so, so tired. It did not help that, when Laura was born, we were living in a one bedroom apartment in a crap part of downtown San Jose, next door to a meth lab run by a guy we called the Junk Man. The Junk Man got all kinds of late-night shipments, dudes unloading things from pick-up trucks, and sometimes he would stand out in his backyard, which was about six feet away from us, and glare at our windows. I don't know if he was crazy, or if he was the savviest meth lab proprietor in the biz, or both. He was a little bit scary.

And! And the apartment was one of several that had been carved out of an old house. The landlord and lady were named Bernie and Betty, and they were greedy assholes. I say that with utter objectivity. They didn't live there, but they would send around their man-of-all-work to handle things on the property. This guy's name was Alan, and he was a mysterious character. I think he had been in jail. One day he was in our apartment to figure out why all this black junk was coming out of our faucets. Or, more accurately, to try to convince me that black junk wasn't coming out of all the faucets. He had to leave, abruptly, because he had to make it to class. I, trying to make nice with this person who was our only hope of ever getting anything done around the place, said, "You're taking a class? What kind of class?" And he said, "I'm just trying to figure out what went wrong."


Since the campus of San Jose State was just down the road, and our bedroom faced the street, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, we would be entertained by troupes of stumbling, drunken students, living out their loves, cares, and more usually, their disagreements right on our sidewalk. We called them the Fuck You Players, because those words were the concluding lines of most of their performances.

The kitchen had been the back porch of the house until they converted it. And the bathroom was in the kitchen. Ancient nasty plumbing. And a mouse lived there.

Betty and Bernie charged us $1200 a month for this place, after I'd talked them down from $1600. We moved out to Silicon Valley at the height of the real estate boom, and they thought this was a conscionable price. While we were negotiating this rate, Betty told me a long, sad story about how her adult son had gotten lost in the woods around Boulder Creek and frozen to death. That turned out to be a lie, but I think she kind of believed it.

What got me writing about this place? Oh, because this was the home that we brought Laura to from the hospital, and we lived there until she was seven months old. I am grateful that I did not go crazy in that little place. I had a hard time. After Matt had to go back to work, some mornings he would make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and leave it on the kitchen counter, because otherwise I might not eat until he came home. I was not yet good at doing things with one hand, and I didn't know that I could and should put the baby down sometimes.

Somehow it is doing me good to write about that apartment. There is some part of me that still feels tender and sore from how hard those early weeks and months of parenting were. Of course, we were happy too, at the same time.

With Hank, things were much better and I was only weepy and crazy for about three days. I just see people doing the newborn thing serenely and well, and I think, "Wow! Go you!"

Anyway, three things about the two pics at the top of this post:

1. Look how adorable that baby is. Exhibit A, his little nose. Exhibit B, his luxuriant hair.

2. I am wearing the same American Apparel shirt that Woody Harrelson wore for the entire movie Zombieland. It's true.

3. I needs to get my hair did.

I hope you guys are having a happy Saturday.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Neener Neener

I'm goin' to BlogHer, I'm goin' to BlogHer. . .

Are you going? Do tell.

Also, for my spring break I'm going to Cleveland. JEALOUS? You should be because it is going to rock, for several reasons: 1. I'll be giving a paper at the meeting of the International Society for the Study of Narrative (oh you know we'll be on our baddest behavior); 2. The mighty Cuyahoga River is there, and I have always enjoyed the REM song of the same name; 3. I will be rooming with one of my best girls Erika; 4. We'll be staying in a hotel and I bet there will be a TV right in the room! That I can see FROM THE BED.

Are any of you readers in or near Cleveland, and would you like to come meet me for a drinky at the hotel? It's like April 7-11, at the Renaissance hotel downtown? I think it's the Renaissance. Some old building with like, a fountain? And hopefully TV's. Seriously Clevelanders, let me know.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Confectionery Moments

1. On Monday Laura came in from school and running club and took off her shoes. I said, "Laura, I can smell your feet from here, did you wear socks today?" She protested that she had. I said, "Well where are they? I don't see any socks." She said, "Hang on, I'll get them." Then she went into the laundry room and brought back a pair of mismatched socks that I knew very well had been on top of the washer all day. I said, "Laura, these were the socks?" She said they were. I said, "You have one more chance to tell me the truth before I sniff these."

At this point I feel like a complete Mommy Dearest, and I am not enjoying this. Of course, after they smelled perfectly clean she admitted that she hadn't worn socks. And I fussed at her for lying for utterly no reason. I told her there would be no TV or computer that day and sent her up to her room. But first she had to tell her dad about it.

Then somehow the stress of having fussed at her made me walk straight into the kitchen and eat three girl scout cookies: one Samoa and two Do-si-dos. See where lying leads?

Later Matt talked to her and converted the punishment into lasting all week. But somehow he put a really positive spin on it. He is good like that.

2. Yesterday was "Doughnuts with Dads" day at Hank's preschool. I slept in while Matt took him to school. Gloriosity! Anyway, Matt said there was food set out for them and the kids sang a few songs, but Hank wouldn't touch any of the snacks because it was not doughnuts but doughnut holes. Try as he might, Matt could not get Hank to recognize the validity of the doughnut hole format.

3. Still yesterday, with Laura announcing her imminent death from boredom at not being allowed to have screen time, I told her she could make cookies from this frozen dough I had. So she did, and it was some fancy kind that only made like 8 cookies. Geez, could I get some Tollhouse up in here? Anyway, the kids each had one, but I told them they needed to save some for today.

At bedtime, Hank said, "Mom, do you know that people somewhere eat cookies for breakfast?"

I said, "They do?"

He said, "Yes, they are breakfast cookies."

I said, "What people? Who?"

He thought, and said, "A lot of people. All the people."

So I just gave Hank a breakfast cookie because, as he explained, everybody is doing it. He is so danged persuasive.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Gossip Helps Us Define and Enforce Norms of Group Behavior

When Normal Neighbor came to drop her daughter off for Laura's slumber party on Friday, she stayed for a beer and a chat. The previous Friday, some of these same little girls, Laura included, had been at a slumber party around the corner, hosted by another friend of ours for her daughter. This mom has six kids. (I've never quite come up with a blog name for her but I really like her, and she is a part of the whole scene. Maybe Mellow Mama?) Her little girl and Normal Neighbor's girl and Laura are all good buddies. Anyway.

So Frenemy Neighbor's daughter P was also invited, but the hostess was told she'd be arriving later because her parents were busy and she was at her grandmother's for the evening. Frenemy told Mellow Mama she'd go get P and bring her to the slumber party by 8:00.

Normal Neighbor said that around 10:30, the hostess figured that P wasn't coming, turned off the porch light, and went to bed. At 11:30 the doorbell rang. Mellow Ma had been asleep, as were half of the party guests. It was Frenemy wanting to drop off P at the party. So drop her off she did, and then picked her up again at 9am.

Normal Neighbor and I exchanged grimaces over this episode, and then I told Pretty Neighbor about it too. It's just a typical page from the Frenemy parenting playbook. They take P with them everywhere while they conduct adult business, so she misses out on a lot of things, then they control her time so rigidly that she misses out on some more stuff. She is home schooled, but they aren't the networking type of home schoolers. P seems isolated to me, very isolated.

I just don't think that girl has enough fun or enough kid time.

This afternoon was another characteristic episode. I texted FN at about 2:00:

Me: Hey, Matt is going to take Laura to the climbing wall at the gym, would P like to go?

FN: Yes but we r eating right now. We need to work on the rental house today, P would need to stay whole afternoon with u. What do u think.

Me: Well, the climbing closes at 5 so they would prob be there until then anyway. We are having lunch too but we are almost finished. Y'all?

FN: We are just sitting down, would u be up 2 her staying with u the rest of the day???

Me: We would be great with that part, but it sounds like they might not have enough time if y'all are starting lunch. Maybe a different day? Climbing is open til 8 on the weekdays.

FN: Ok, if you want P for playing we will prob leave in 15 or 20 minutes and back this evening. Thxs.

With that last message, I didn't feel that she had gotten my drift at all, and I also felt that if we didn't take P with us, I was condemning her to spend several hours sitting in her parents' empty rental house. Because I know that, to Frenemy, "the whole afternoon" doesn't mean until 5 or 6, it means until 7 or 8. But I didn't think we were communicating well, so I called her. I learned that they were having lunch at their house, not a restaurant, and P would be available soon. And I learned that I was right about the 7 or 8. Frenemy asked if "7 or 8" was okay, and I, remembering her penchant for lateness, said, "That's fine. 8:00 is when I start getting the kids ready for bed." That must have worked, because they rolled up at 8:20. Improvement. And the girls had a good time climbing, and then P helped Laura clean her room.

Whatever! I guess I'm telling you this because I tell you everything. I am a magpie, and here is another bit of shiny thread.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Girls, Girls, Girls

slumber party group

Here's the secret to the whole slumber party endeavor: have it on Friday night. They will have gotten up at 6 or 6:30 that morning, and by ten o'clock they will be ready to doss down for the night. Or that's what happened here; it didn't work for Sara, who sent me an email about her slumber party at midnight-thirty that said "hoping for quiet by 2am." Hee hee! My girls went up and put on their jammies, completely unprompted by me, at 9:00. Then we turned the living room into a mattresspalooza and they all sprawled out everywhere. It was like a scene from Brokedown Palace minus the drugs or stern Thai matrons.

bedding down

From about 10-12 they watched Starstruck, a Disney movie about a sissy tween idol who looked barely out of diapers to me, but they were rapt. Pretty Neighbor and I hid in the book room and drank a bottle of wine.

laura sips

It turned out that we didn't need a lot of activities. Laura did pick out a bracelet-making kit, and we had that set up for them to work on as they arrived. They really liked those. Some of them also decorated their faces.

madison and caroline

Then they ran around some, then it was time for pizza, then cake, then presents. Then there was some prolonged squealing, but it was upstairs and I was downstairs so I didn't mind so much, then there was a good bit of flouncing around in jammies, then there was the making of beds, and flopping on them, then there was lots of chatting and some more squealing but did I mention the bottle of wine?


dinner is served 2

pizza 2


laura and caroline

One big event was the opening of goody bags, the inventorying of the Silly Bandz in the bags, and the Silly Bandz trading. (Are Silly Bandz the thing where you guys are? ZOMG they are like oxygen here.) I took a few pictures of the negotiations.


silly bandz trading

If you've ever seen traders in action on the floor of the stock exchange, you get the picture. Oh, and we only lost one girl, but it was just half an hour after she got dropped off. Her mom brought her in and said that she'd had a palate expander put in the day before, and that it was hurting her. I got the feeling the girl didn't even want to come, but her mom seemed to be pushing her to stay a little while. She sat down with the other girls, but she looked glassy-eyed. After twenty minutes I felt her forehead and she seemed warm to me. She said, "I want to call my mom now," and I said, "Yes, I think that's a good idea." She turned out to be sick on top of the orthodontic pain. I'm surprised her mom brought her at all.

There was no fussing, except one little girl came to me and said, "I need an icepack, Caroline spit in my eye." I was like, why don't we rinse it out instead? And tell everyone there is no spitting allowed. The hecks?

They were asleep by midnight, and I heard them begin stirring again at 7. They got out the bagels and cream cheese, and cold pizza, and helped themselves. I stayed in bed until 8:30. Then they were gone as quickly as they came, leaving only a toxic cloud of some kind of body spray they got into upstairs.

A few more pictures are here. Laura said it was the best birthday ever and nobody cried, so I'm calling this one a success.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

It Is Upon Us

Laura's slumber party, that is. She turned 9 last Friday. Tomorrow night nine little girls will be arriving for an overnight frolic. I let Laura invite nine girls thinking maybe six or seven would show, but they all RSVP'd promptly and accepted.

The other day I was over at my dear old co-room mom Jan's house picking up Laura from a play date. She said, "Do you want to borrow our popcorn maker for Laura's party?" I said, "Sure," thinking we were talking about a small appliance. She led me down to her basement, where we confronted a big, movie-theater style popcorn machine. The kind that dumps all the popcorn in the bottom of a glass case. Jan helped me muscle it out of the basement, through her backyard, and around the side of her house to my van. That woman has a can-do spirit that I've long enjoyed. I said, "Jan, why do you have this?" She said, "Well, it's like a seven hundred dollar machine that was marked down to three hundred!" And I was like, that still doesn't really answer my question, but I love you.

Anyway, we'll have snacking and caking, and plenty of movies to watch, and I'm going to turn the girls loose with the video camera (Laura is always longing to film and be filmed). Question: Do y'all think we need a craft? Normal Neighbor had them painting pillowcases at her daughter's party, and she's offering me her fabric markers. I always wonder how much I really need to schedule or supervise, or if I can just let them roam free more of the time. And if you think a craft is good, any ideas?

My mother-in-law is here to provide moral and tactical support, bless her. She has conceived a nail-painting scheme where each girl has a different color polish and they go to town on each other's nails. That might go over well, as long as my entire house is covered with plastic at the time and I am heavily sedated. I'm totally kidding about the sedation mostly.

Speaking of my mother-in-law, she's brought her dog Buddy with her. Both dogs are lying at my feet and pooting so extraordinarily that I have to get up and leave the computer now. But please share any slumber party pro tips that you have and I'll be back when the air clears.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Not My Scene. Not Not Not.

In my ongoing quest to be the Jane Goodall of suburbia, I went and played bunco with a bunch of strangers in my neighborhood. Bunco is a game played with dice, and according to wikipedia, is "popular particularly among middle-aged suburban women." Heh. I had no idea what this game was until last week. As Wikipedia explains:
As it is played today, Bunco is a social dice game involving 100% luck and no skill (there are no decisions to be made), scoring and a simple set of rules. Women who are part of a Bunco club take turns as the Bunco hostess, providing snacks, refreshments and the tables to set up the games. The hostess may also provide a door prize. Small amounts of money can be involved as well. The object of the game is to accumulate points and to roll certain combinations. The winners get prizes (provided by the hostess or pooled from the club resources) for accomplishments such as the highest score, the lowest score, or the most buncos. Prizes frequently center on themes associated with the game such as fancy dice, dice embedded in soap, t-shirts featuring illustrations of dice, etc. [emphasis mine]
Okay, already we can identify a problem with this pastime. Fancy dice? Dice embedded in soap? Please do not. Do not embed those things in that thing.

I was at my tennis lesson last week and another girl, Tonya, came up to me and said, "What are you doing tonight?" Now, I don't know her and had only exchanged pleasantries on the court. I felt slightly trapped--I like a softer come-on than that--but I came up with a clever answer. "Nothing," I said. She said, "Come and play bunco. We just started a new group and it's the first time we've gotten together." I didn't want to seem unfriendly, and I'm all about the neighborliness, so I said, "Okay!" I thought it might be fun. She told me the address and said to BYOB. So I did.

There were twelve women there, counting me. They were all basically strangers, except I'd met two of them before, sort of. It was interesting, because though we've lived here for a few years now and I'm acquainted with lots of people, I don't really know who knows who and what the networks of friends are. I am always fascinated by social groups and by figuring out how people are connected. Some of these ladies were friends, but it was a mixed and newly-assembled group. I also like to meet people, I have no problem being somewhere where I don't know anyone, I love games, and I like snacks. So why was this such a terrible time?

For starters, the game is deadly, deadly boring. It's not even a game, it's just taking turns. In each round, you're just trying to roll a certain number on the dice, and you get points for your successes. It's all chance. Very simple. Yet trying to get some members of this crowd to understand the rules was like explaining the plot of Memento to a bucket of chicken wings. Um, I say that in love?

So yeah, boring game. I know it's supposed to be about socializing rather than being all cerebral, but I think even if I'd been sitting at that table with my three best friends, I would have been like, "Can we at least play dominoes?" Because it wasn't so mindless, like something you do with your hands in a group--knitting or quilting or something--that it left your mind totally free to talk. You had to watch the dice and count points, so the presence of what little game structure there was just acted as an irritant.

And that would have been, well, okay I guess, if the people hadn't been 50% awful. How to explain? The other day the lovely Femme Follette said, of a gathering of good friends, that being with them was "like breathing pure oxygen." That struck a chord with me, because I always feel that way after being with people I truly like, or sometimes I feel as though I've been given nourishing food. Well. If the company of great people is like pure oxygen, then hanging out with these people was like breathing the air out behind a Greyhound bus station. A few of them were nice, in the sense that they knew the basic rules of meeting people in a social setting. Those rules boil down to only one: Thou Shalt Make a Fracking Effort. More of them did not get it. The hostess, Lynne, I would describe as chilly, except that even being "chilly" implies rather more social deliberation than I think she has at her command. The others were harmless, but nobody had any small talk, information, or much personality at all. I sound like a total bitch right now, but I promise you, my standards are not high.

One funny thing was that a few of the ladies were really confused about whether I was "tennis Becky" or "the other Becky, the one who has the Southern Living Home parties." I assured them I was not the other Becky, though I do know that Becky. One lady said, "Now who is she?" So I told her everything I knew about that other Becky, which happened to be a fair amount. She was like, "What does she look like?" So I described her. And then she said, "Why isn't she here?" And I had to confess that I had no idea. But that I was very sorry I wasn't her.

And yeah, I thought that my tennis teammate was asking me to join this bunco group. But she only invited me because they needed a sub. (You have to play with an exact number of people.) When I got there, she was passing around a schedule of their monthly gatherings, and it said, "If you are unavailable, you must get a sub for yourself." Then it had a list of "Substitute Players," and my name was on it. Um. What the hecks? So the next day Tonya from tennis emailed me and did NOT say, "Hey, I was glad you came last night, I had fun and I hope you did too." No. She said, "I lost your phone number and I need to add it to the sub list so could you email it to me?" And I ignored her.

Funny, when I told Normal Neighbor that Tonya had invited me to play bunco, Normal Neighbor made a little face. I said, "Do you know her?" She said, "No, but she's kind of rough." Only she meant "rough" in this sense that I'd forgotten it had. I don't know if my actual grandmother used to say that, or just the archetypal Southern Grandmother who speaks in my thoughts--the one who says "Only whores and children wear red shoes," that lady--but she meant "rough" not in the sense of "she looks bad," but like, "she's unrefined." Anyway, just a lexical sidebar. I'd forgotten that usage, but Normal Neighbor sometimes gives me back little bits of my linguistic upbringing, things I've forgotten in my wanderings around this great land. And with her usual Normal Neighbor perceptivity, she was right. Tonya is rough, and so are several members of the bunco sorority. Whatever, like I grew up in Buckingham Palace, but you know what I mean.

I would love to hear--let me rephrase, I would LOVE to hear--tales of your bunco experiences. If you have any. Surely some fun is being had with that activity. But I do not think I will partake again. OH, and Tonya, the girl who invited me, turned to me at one point in the evening and said, "So if you want to play more, you better keep the last Tuesday of every month clear, because I bet we'll always need a sub." Oh my dear, well when you put it that way! I'm seduced by your honeyed words!

Sorry I've been such a bad blogger the last few days! When life takes me away from you, Reader, I feel it most keenly. You give me fever, blog readers, fever all through the night.