Monday, May 31, 2010

We Are All about Solutions

Flip Flops

One of the toughest parts of tubing down the river is flip flop retainment. They tend to come off and float away, and they move faster than you do. But no more! Matt devised this little fix for Laura, and she tubed along with her shoes dangling from her ankles most of the time. I expect to see this rig everywhere this summer--it's the poor girl's gladiator sandal. If only I had thought to tie my sunglasses around my neck.

At Deep Creek

JJ's Tubes


We had a quick and lovely trip to North Carolina. Tubing was done, and reading, socializing, and sleeping late. Temp was in the mid-70's up there, and the creek water was cold enough to shrink your hiney.

Hank floated in one of those blue tubes, tied to an adult's tube with rope. When I was with him, at one point he got stuck on a rock. Like, good and stuck, with his tube tilted up, and his body sliding out of it. I was reaching out and tugging on his tube and kicking my legs, and then I abandoned that plan and just stretched out and grabbed his arm to haul him on board my tube. He protested because I was pulling on his arm, but I got him safe and us both unstuck. Then I thought, "Tomorrow will be two months since my mastectomy."

So there you have it. Two months out. The information they give you at the surgeon's office should say, "After two months, expect some stiffness in the affected arm, but you should be able to resume climbing into waterfalls and wrangling a forty-pound child safely over a series of river rocks."

I hope y'all are having a fun-filled weekend. xoxo-b

Friday, May 28, 2010


Today was Laura's last day of school, no joke. It seems early, but they go back on August 10. In keeping with tradition, we were waiting at the bus stop armed with squirt guns and water balloons. I thought Normal Neighbor started this, but apparently it's a thing around here, because before Laura's bus arrived, I could hear the kids on another route around the corner getting off their bus, and I could hear them shrieking and laughing as they got squirted.

Hank had a huge super-soaker, but he never pulled the trigger. He's like one of those soldiers who got through the entire Great War without ever using a single bullet.

Last night my cousin Scott and his family came through on their way to the mountain house and crashed at our place. They walked in and said, "Are we gonna get to be in your blog?" Hell to the yes. They weren't here long enough for me to take a picture, but here is Scott's wife Stephanie, at Christmas in Florida.

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That's a cosmo I had just handed her. She is one of my favorite people in the world. Blog, meet Stephanie.

This morning they were gone before we even got up. But she left a note:
Sorry the children were so loud this morning. If I were a bear I would have eaten them.
Best note ever. I don't know how the men in my family find such quality women, but somehow they do.

As I write this Matt is watching the final moments of the Celtics game. But we got a wild hare and are heading up to the mountain house ourselves. The kids are both asleep, but we're going to transfer their limp bodies to the car and get up there late. We felt the need to go tubing tomorrow. Make hay while the sun shines and all that. I learned that in the Little House books.

Bon weekend my friends!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

In Which I Glow with Health. And Righteousness.

green powder

What's going on in the Submat kitchen? Smoothies! I've been talking to various far-flung friends about eating to boost immunity, and a morning smoothie seemed like a good way to get a lot of antioxidants in at the start of the day. Last week I welcomed a Magic Bullet into our home. You may remember that I have never in my grown-up life possessed a food processor. Nor is my blender very good. (Or it might be good if I could find the little rubber thing that goes on the thing that screws onto the thing.) All I wanted the food processor for was pesto and hummus, so the Magic Bullet meets all those needs. And more!

Y'all, I was so excited that I read the instruction booklet.

Then I asked my friend Beth (she of Remarkably Domestic) for smoothie secrets and she was all like, girl, add green powder to your smoothies! I had to google "green powder." I had no idea that was a thing. But it is. It's a powder that is green. And it contains about fifty various ground-up superfoods like wheat grass, kale juice, and carob pod, but also spirulina, Icelandic kelp, and something called Bladderwrack. Apparently this is a type of algae. A terribly, terribly named algae. I dunno.

So I've been drinking a smoothie every morning that contains:

organic frozen blueberries (they sell big bags at Costco)
a smidge of banana
half a cup of Greek yogurt
a little ice
a little Vermont maple syrup (don't judge me)
a tablespoon of green powder

And also whatever fruit is around. I just got a bunch of organic strawberries to throw in, or yesterday I had mango. Today Hank ate the entire remaining mango before my smoothie happened. I peeled it and he just ate it in his hands like a big, slippery peach.

The instructions on the jar of green powder advise, "Drink consciously and with positive intent." So I have been trying to do that, but I'm landing more on, "Drink abstractedly with loud slurping." I've heard that people can't stand the taste of this powder stuff, but in a fruit smoothie it's not bad at all. Matt tasted it and said, "Hmm, a slightly grassy finish." I did try a little of the powder stirred into a glass of water, and it tasted like the Green Giant took over the municipal water supply and then died in it.

So doncha wanna come over and let me make you a smoothie? By the power of Bladderwrack you are healed!

We are also making other changes in our diet--you'll probably hear more about that 'cause I tell y'all everything eventually. I'm reading a lot about nutrition too. Dr. Weil, of course, and that Anticancer book is really good, I just started it. I decided last week that I was finished reading about the disease of breast cancer. I was a ball of anxiety trying to parse all these studies and figure out what the exact ten-year rate of recurrence is for my exact population, and all these other statistics. I decided to read about health and wellness instead, and take a giant chill pill on the rest. Like, I literally took a chill pill; I got so upset one night that I took one of the Ativan they gave me for nausea. No more reading on the internets.

And I'm swilling green tea. SWILLING.

Since I started this regimen, I have been feeling really great. I don't know if it's the power of Bladderwrack or if it's just that I'm now in week three of the chemo cycle, far out from the treatment, and I've recovered. Just in time for another go 'round on June 2.

Anyhoo. That's what's cooking here. Have a good day y'all. Bladderwrack.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Let's Check in on Codi, Shall We?

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For those of you just joining us, Codi is this here wig on my head. Her color is "maple sugar," did I tell you that? So how is Codi doing? She's fine, just staying busy, you know how it goes. I'm quite pleased with her; I think she looks pretty natural. And God bless her, she keeps a shape that it takes a blow dryer and a round brush to achieve with real hair. She feels like real hair too. Sometimes find myself twirling a lock of it the way I always did my own hair. Then I get slightly embarrassed, like you might if you had to kiss someone for a play and you got really into it.

Or not much like that maybe.

Underneath there I'm like Ripley in Alien(s). That little cropped 'do that Matt gave me lasted about five days before it got too thin, and he buzzed it the rest of the way. Codi went on better after that. My head turned out to be a really normal shape too. You never know.

The kids like Codi. I went in to read to Laura's class last week, and afterwards Laura said, "Mom, you were sitting there and your hair looked so real!" And Hank said today, "Mom, I'm getting used to your bald head. But I'm more used to your wig."

They have both been real champs about it. One of the first days that it was all cut off, I was walking around the house and Laura said, "Mom, why don't you put your wig on?" I said, "Listen, you guys are going to have to get used to seeing me in wigs and hats and bald at different times." That's why Hank reassures me every now and then that he's "getting used to it."

When Matt's brother Andy came to visit last week, Hank told him he had something to show him in his room. He led Andy up there and told him where to sit. Then he sat down opposite him and said, "Mom's taking medicine that makes her hair fall out. My medicine won't make my hair fall out, but hers is falling out and she has a wig to wear. And she looks like a boy."

Matt had been the one to tell Hank what was about to happen with my hair, and he obviously got the message. I love that he wanted to clue Andy in, like he knew that my appearance might be surprising. I also overheard him telling Laura all about it the day he found out. Of course she already knew and was like, yeah, old news. Matt and I considered the whole thing a successful information roll-out.

The only awkward thing in the Codisphere is when I run into people I know only slightly or see very infrequently who don't know about the cancer and chemotherapy, and they say, "Oh, you have short hair now!" or some such. This happened three times in the last couple days and I dealt with each differently.

Scenario 1: at the party I took Laura to, the mother of the birthday child saw me and said, "Oh wow, you went short, it looks cute!" To which I replied, "Thanks!" and left it at that. If she'd been bringing her daughter over for a playdate, or I'd been at her house, I would have filled her in. But it was not the moment for me to be all, "Lemme bring the room down a little bit."

Scenario 2: at the carnival we ran into one of Laura's former classmates. I'm friendly with the mom, she's very gregarious, and she was there with her whole family including the grandparents and all her children. She said, "You have short hair now!" I said, "Yeah, there's a whole story to that." She said, "Really?" I said, "Yeah, I'll tell you about it later." Then I laughed and she laughed. I'm not sure what we were laughing at, except that it probably seemed like I had some bad salon experience to impart. Again, it didn't seem like the moment to start at square one.

Scenario 3: leaving swim practice, a neighbor I know only slightly through Pretty Neighbor, said, "Oh, it's you! I didn't recognize you with your short hair." She was sitting in her golf cart and I was standing with Laura. Somehow it was easier to be brief and direct. I said, "Actually it's a wig. I'm having chemotherapy." And she said, "Well it looks really cute." And I thanked her. I figured she'd get the deets, if she wanted to know more, from Pretty Neighbor.

So I don't know, we are muddling through, Codi 'n me. I can stand to wear her for a good eight or nine hours, or how ever long I need to be running around doing things, but there comes a time when it's moonrise on Mt. Baldy. You know how it feels really good when you take off your bra, or your high heels? It's kind of like that, only on your head.

Monday, May 24, 2010



Over the weekend, a little carnival set up in a field about a mile from our house. It comes around every spring and fall, but it had been a good long time since the kids had gotten to go. Matt took them on Sunday afternoon for a couple of hours (while Mama caught up on her Bravo viewing) and THEN took them back at nightfall, 'cause they still had their wristbands. (Matt is my muffin.) I went along for the second outing.

hank in a teacup

Oh my Lord, did they love it. It had all the variations of the spin-you-around-too-fast attractions, plus the swinging pirate ship. The only thing out of all of that I could possibly ride was the ferris wheel, which we loved. It was Hank's first time ever for a lot of this stuff.

laura on ferris wheel profile

the sizzler

Matt nobly offered to ride this Barfatron with Hank, who spent the ride plastered to his side like a ragdoll. Laura was in her element. She even got to sit on a ride with some teenage girls. Oh the coolness! She was so cool that she couldn't wave to her mom.

laura at carnival

Hank, on the other hand, thought I was so cool that he dragged me into the funhouse mirrors with him.

hall of mirrors

Then I got too far behind him and smacked some glass. A lot. Doh.

Oh and the carnie people. Oh goodness. Help me remember: what made carnies look sad and unhealthy before crystal meth? Was it just good ol' booze? I was too young to notice back then. These kids, they didn't notice the rust or the toothless personnel. It could have been the fracking Epcot Center to them. That thing about how being with your kids makes you see things with new eyes? It is totally true.

hank in racecar

A few more pics are here. I hope y'all had a good weekend, with no motion sickness.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Now She Just Needs To Attend 9 More Parties There

This morning I drove Laura to a bowling birthday party that started at 10:45 sharp. It was at the bowling alley where Matt and I spent an enchanted evening a few months back. When I was last there, I was drinking some quantity of beer, which may be why I barely recognized the place when I walked in today. I was like, "They have bumper cars in here?"

On the way, Laura had asked to be briefed. "So what's the deal with bowling?" she said. I said, "You've never bowled before?" "Only on Wii," she said. So I gave her the gist of ball, lane, pins, two throws a turn. She said, "How do you get your ball back?"

I thought that was so adorable somehow. My answer: "I don't exactly know. A machine does it but I think it used to be people." I am so awesome at explaining stuff--I can't wait until we get to talk about menstruation.

I did tell her how she could lean her face over the little air blower thing and pretend to be a super model.

Then we got into the bowling area and greeted the party folks. I said, "Okay, Laura, go on up to that counter and get your shoes." She goes, "Wait, what?"

THEN my former co-room mom Jan was there (she completes me!) and she was in a heated discussion with the shoe counter man. Or heated for a bowling alley before eleven in the morning. It seems that her little girl had forgotten to wear socks, and now the man was telling her she couldn't bowl unless she purchased socks from their vending machine, for $3.50. That is like a mugging. She had no cash so I handed her four dollars, and she offered to drive Laura home when the party was over. Supah sweet deal!

An hour after the party was over, Laura called me on Jan's cell phone and said that they would be late coming home because Jan was parked on the side of the road trying to coax a stray dog into her minivan.

For a party favor, Laura brought home a full-sized regulation bowling pin with her name on it. No joke. Not a toy, not a pin-shaped coin bank. That thing is solid wood and heavy as hell. Matt and I were laughing about it and wondering what those things cost, and he briefly tried to price it using the internet. Turns out, it is kind of hard to purchase a single bowling pin.

Oh, and Jan was unsuccessful with the dog and Animal Control was apparently closed, so she left it with a bowl of water and several energy bars. If I know her, she went back for another try. So not to worry.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bells and Whistles, and Dumb

This morning I had an early-ish appointment to have my blood checked. I had slept poorly--or really I stayed up too late watching the news about the BP scrooge-up and then I started reading Year of Wonders in bed. Do you know this book? It's about a young woman in a rural village of England in 1666. Yeah, great year. Everyone has told me how good this book is. So I got a ways into it and then I texted my sister:
Hey is anything going to happen in this book but a lot of people dying of the plague and also some children die?
She said:
Yeah that's pretty much it. Few twists but yeah. ;)
I don't know if she was winking at the plague or death in general or what. But I told her:
I don't think I can read this right now. I'll put it aside and reread The Road. Ha!
The "ha" was designed to signal that I was being mordant. You can't leave things open to interpretation when texting, you know. Then I told her I shouldn't be awake and that I would let her go, and she told me that she had been texting me while on the elliptical trainer. We agreed that should probably be illegal.

Then I tried to go to sleep and failed until very late/early. So when I got in the car to go to my doctor's appointment, I was tired. Also it was raining and I was worried about getting Codi wet. I don't know what the moisture might do to her. Do you remember Gremlins?

I started the minivan and as I rolled down the driveway, it began making a gentle chiming noise. The dashboard indicator said that there was a door open. This car has power everything and one of the sliding doors has been acting up, so I thought it might be ajar. I put it in park, used the button to open both sliding doors, and then closed them again. I also gave my door a little slam, but there was still the dashboard light and the chiming.

"Oh well," I thought. "The doors are obviously closed. This is a dumb wiring problem, or something with the door sensor, but maybe the chiming will stop after a minute." I rolled into the street.

"Beep beep beep!" Oh that was kind of annoying, but I was undeterred. I plugged in my iPhone and turned up the music. "BEEP BEEP BEEP."

I thought, "Am I really going to make this fifteen minute drive with this noise? I guess so." As I accelerated out of my neighborhood, the noise was like "OMG BONG BONG BONG!" And I felt defiant. I was like, "Yeah, I know you think the door is open, dumbass! BUT IT'S NOT."

I was not, perhaps, operating at the peak of my faculties.

After a few minutes I became numb to the bonging, which by that time was like, "HOLY CRAP BONG BONG BOOP what is she doing STOP HER OR I WILL SAY BONG AGAIN!" But there were certain songs that were almost the same pitch as the bonging so I didn't notice as much.

Or actually on some level I did notice and it was the most jangling sensory experience I have had in recent memory. Just awful, the bonging. And my angry defiance of the bonging. I think I was a tiny bit crazy.

At length, I pulled into a parking place at the doc's and scampered through the rain. I had my blood drawn and earned an A+ in blood. Then I steeled myself to go back out and face the bonging. I thought, "Okay, I am going to get to the bottom of this sliding door situation if I have to rewire the car right this minute. I will do like on Star Trek and remodulate the sensors or something."

Then, as I walked toward my parking place, I could see that the front passenger door was basically open. The door was about an inch from being flush with the side of the car.

So that could have been the problem. That right there. And I stepped in a puddle as I was closing the door. Who wears thong sandals on a rainy day? I do.

Then, in the driver's seat, the no-bonging silence was so nice. But it was also kind of a smug silence.

Sometimes I am dumb. But I do wish you a happy Friday. xoxo-B

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?

Today after school Laura had a check up at the orthodontist's. I was a little beat by then because I hadn't slept well, and I'd already had an outing to have lunch at a new place with Normal Neighbor and one of the K(C)athies. It was such a lady lunch place. I mean, the restaurant name made a pun with the word "thyme," everyone in the joint was in tennis clothes, and they are selling earrings and purses in there. Ladyland. There were a couple of men waiting for a table, and I was like, "Dudes, so Chipotle was on fire?"

So then, at the dentist's, I show up in my wig, which they think is a rather dramatic makeover, given that they have no idea what's going on with me or why I'd be wearing a wig, so this occasioned a lot of different conversations about cancer with everyone in the place, from the doctor to the scheduler. Don't get me wrong. I love the talking. Just a talkin' all the live long day, it's what I do. Telling acquaintances that I've had breast cancer can tax my reserves, though, as it requires that I package a comfortable but informative "here's what's up with me" experience for them, giving them the details they want and reassuring them that I'm really doing well while not getting too dark. Everything, including the less pleasant aspects of treatment, is woven into a narrative of progress and the eventual restoration of health and it's all fine. I am not at all flippant about this. I mean that this conversation has a goal and if you will relax, I will get us to our destination.

Honest to Pete, while I was chatting with the hygienist, Hank went to the glass-front fridge and brought me a bottle of water. "Mama, this is for you," he said. (Days ago, he and I had had a conversation in which he asked what would happen if you drank too much water. I told him that you could hardly manage such a thing--that you should drink a lot and it will make you feel better. He had said, "Mom, you should drink a lot of water to make you feel better.")

Other wisdom from Hank that day: "Mom, God's son's name is Bob God."

After we were back in the car on the way home, the kids got into one of those periods where they both have important things that they absolutely must tell me and must get my feedback on at that exact moment without any delay. If this requires talking over each other, so be it. Half of what Laura says comes from her fantasy life, and half of what Hank says is repeated in an eerie five-second delay from what he just heard Laura say. But zomg they must both be heard right this instant! Mom, tell Hank I am talking! No Laura, I have to tell Mom a question! And it got to be too much.

"Okay," I said. "That is enough talking. Everyone stop talking. Right now." They didn't believe me. These children are African violets. Each tender, jewel-toned petal has been brought to vivid color by a rich, full spectrum of parental attention. But also by our sometimes ignoring them.

Laura said, "But Mom, I'm just going to sing a song." Don't, I said. Hank said, "Mom, I need you to spell DUNGEON." Understand that the child can't read or write, he is three. He just likes to hear me spell things. I said, "Mama can't spell right now." "But WHY?" he asked, as I pulled up to a traffic light. I thought.

"Because I'm turning left," I said. And they were silent for about two minutes, which let me listen to an old Jayhawks song and concentrate on my unprotected left turn.

Once while I was being examined by my midwife, the talk turned to audio books and whether we liked listening to books while driving. She told me that she'd been getting through Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! this way. I lifted myself up on my elbows. "No way!" I said. That has got to be the least likely audio book ever." She nodded and said, "I have to shut it off when I'm turning left." That still makes me laugh.

I think we need to see if "I'm turning left" can serve as a temporary excuse for not doing other things. Hell, even stuff you don't do in the car. I didn't read that article you emailed me because I was turning left. I didn't RSVP to her party because there was no arrow. I will not wear those Spanx because there is no turn lane.

You have Matt to blame for the length and vapidity of this post. He is watching the Celtics game and I have no choice but to bloooooogggggg. Can't watch Lost, can't watch Frontline, can't watch 9 by Design. Do other people have more than one TV?

I'll stop now.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Hank zonked out.

Ruh roh. Little bud is ailing. After sniffling all night, he's running a fever today. Some kind of virus. And there is one of my new couches, all covered with blankets gypsy-caravan style. Not how I intended to show the new couch friends to you guys, but new furniture plus possibly-sick child equals Becky overreacting. At the first sign that Hank wasn't feeling well this morning, I scooped him off the couch into my arms while my parents gathered blankets to put under and around him. Then he conked out in his little nest.

Then my parents left. Wait, what? Yes. They just waved and rolled down the driveway, off to rejoin their own so-called lives. We've had at least one grandparent on duty, nearly constantly, ever since my mastectomy at the end of March. There were gaps here and there--gaps when Matt and I had to resume full household and parenting duties--but blessedly soon, the next shift would arrive for work. I mean, do they think we have the emotional maturity and judgment to care for these children on our own? We'll see.

Thank the Lord that Matt's mom is coming on Wednesday.

And I really needed my mom and dad over the weekend. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I was in some kind of chemotherapy funk. It wasn't too bad, because there was no upchucking, but I just felt weak and kinda out of it. Doing very much for the kids would have been really hard. My symptoms seemed to be, mainly, a headache and a feeling that things were just not right. Not things with me, things with the whole entire world. Like, seriously, I got up Saturday morning and everything seemed fine, but I thought, "Something is just not right. It's all slightly wrong and it's heading sideways."

I found confirmation in the fact that my coffee tasted a little funny. And not funny ha-ha either. The news on CNN seemed faintly sinister. The foster children (Conspiracy Guy's brood) arrived to play with Hank, and they seemed super-duper annoying. Whiny, whiny children! Even my own precious angels seemed extra messy and attitudinous.

By afternoon I'd relaxed and recovered enough to confide in the family the fact that I'd been feeling like a double-plus bitch. I don't know that they were surprised. I really do think that my Codi moments are some kind of symptom of the chemo drugs.

Today I feel more normal, and I'm hoping I can keep Hank steady. He's my steady beau.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Who's That Lady?

hank on bridge

Oh mysterious lady. Why, it's me! Other titles I considered for this post:


Or, my real favorite:


Anyhoo, I was planning some properly glam shots of me all wigged up, but I just haven't been feeling great since chemo on Wednesday, so these snaps my mom took at the park will give you the idea.

me and hank on bridge

The wig's name is Codi. Here's something you learn at a wig shop: the whole shopping experience is one of the most retro you will every have. The wig purveyors have names like René of Paris, and there will be large pictures of Raquel Welch adorning every surface. The lady helping you will have been wearing wigs for decades. Do not study her eyebrows too closely. She will be a comforting and knowledgeable presence, just do what she says. And all the wig styles sound like the names of Charlie's Angel rejects. So "Codi" it is. I'm still learning her ways and fiddling with her bangs.

Hank and me

with hank in creek

hank with tulip poplar

hank and me in creek

So my wonderballs dexamethasone pills, which made me feel superhuman for a few days during the first cycle, did not really come through for me this time. I felt fine on Wednesday, when I last checked in with you guys, then on Thursday I was pretty much crashy all day. I didn't want to get off the couch. About 5 in the afternoon, I went up and hid in my room, napped, and didn't come down until it was time for the kids to go to bed. Matt and the grandparents have picked up the slack, and yesterday I felt well enough to get out to the park.

Still no nausea, just the blahs. With me in this state, Hank can beat me in a tricycle-foot race.


That's about where I am. But mostly feeling fine. I'm slightly more bitchy, but that could be Codi.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chemotherapy, Second Verse

Hey dudes, just checking in. I'm having my second chemo infusion today--two more hours to go. I have a lazyboy and a warm blanket, several beverages, and I just dispatched Matt to bring lunch. I also have a buttload of magazines.

I'm the youngest person in here by a lot, but I know that isn't always true.

Have I told you they have free hats here? People knit them and put them in baskets and you can take whatever you want. FREE ACCESSORIES. So let's put that in the plus column.

Also in the plus column: some Coconut Lip Butter my cousin gave me from the Body Shop. I'm supple, people.

More later, including a wigsplosion.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Last Day of Hair

My last day of long hair was yesterday. I think I told you guys in the middle of last week that it had started to shed a little, and that accelerated until on Saturday I could brush it out and brush it out and never stop getting hair. Not just a few strands either, but a lot of hair. Also, my scalp at the back of my neck was a little tingly and sore. The doctor had told me to expect that.

Friday and Saturday I wore my hair in a bun to keep me from fiddling with it all day, and to stop it from getting absolutely everywhere. I wasn't sure what to do. It looked totally normal. You would never have thought my hair was falling out. I had so, so much of it, and it wasn't coming out in clumps. I thought, "I could probably go a few more days like this before it even looks thin," but I also went to the wig store and picked up the wig I'd ordered.

This shedding process was getting a little creepy and depressing. I'd stand at the mirror, brush my hair, hold up a handful of it, and say, "Wow, look at that." Lather, rinse, and repeat this all day. Matt took to standing next to me when I would take it down and brush it, just to provide moral support. Not that I was freaking out--not at all--but the whole scene was a bit grim.

Finally, sometime Saturday evening, I thought, "Okay, this needs to be over." I didn't want to mourn every handful as it went, for days. Did I mention we are talking about a lot of hair? Like a metric ton. I didn't want to spend another day with hair loss as the top story, I wanted to get out in front of it. Somehow it started to seem like not such a big deal. I climbed the mountain of Whatever and reached the peak of To Hell With It.

On the way to see Iron Man 2 (it was okay), Matt and I stopped at Target and bought some hair clippers. We also bought some tiny candy bars, but they aren't part of this story. When we got back home, our resolve wavered. Matt said, "I mean, it still looks so pretty." And it did. It looked normally-thick too. But I knew all that hair was a dead man walking. Shedding like crazy. And that tingly feeling was spreading. The hair was strong, but Cytoxan is stronger. As Matt said, holding a handful of hair, "Well, I bet it's kicking the ass of any cancer cells in there."

Then we took iPhone pictures of ourselves in the mirror--like, hey! here we are with some hair!--then we agreed it was time to get her done. I said, "It's late and this is going to take an hour." Matt said, "It's going to take ten minutes." And he was right. I sat in a chair in front of the mirror up in the Golden Palace, and he buzzed my head all over with the #7 guard, and left it a little longer on top. I also drank a teensy cocktail, but that isn't part of this story.

We joked about the scene in The Bourne Identity where dude gives the girl an adorably chic bob just by hacking at it with nail scissors, and Matt promised to wipe the whole place down for fingerprints when we were done. You want him on your team, people. It wasn't supposed to be perfect--I just wanted to be able to put my wig on, and for the rest of it to go ahead and fall out without clogging all the drains of the world. The result is a sort of cross between a Riot Grrl and Dennis the Menace. I had thought watching might be a downer, but it was kind of fascinating seeing it all get cut off, and we were pretty jolly. The pile of hair on the tile was just enormous, wow. Matt said, "We will never forget this day."

Anyway, what I am getting to with this endless story is this: All this has turned out to be Not That Bad. Like, I am sorry that I ever spent a minute worrying about my hair falling out. Granted, I am not bald yet, but it's such a drastic change that I feel like I can imagine baldness, and it doesn't bother me. Turns out, I still look like myself. It seems that hair loss doesn't make your face fall off. How about that?

This morning I came downstairs in my wig, and Hank and Laura were excited to see it. (We had talked to Hank about the whole issue last week, and when I overheard him tell Laura that my medicine was making my hair fall out, I knew he had successfully processed it.) Right away Hank said, "Show me your regular hair." So I pulled off the wig. Laura laughed and said, "You look like a man!" Hank squealed and said, "You look like a man! A mailman!" Then I put the wig back on and they were like, are we still talking about this?

So I spent some time in the wig today--I went shopping with Pretty Neighbor--and I think it is going to work great. In it I look like the naughtiest flight attendant you ever saw. I'll have pictures soon. Goodnight sweethearts and Happy Mother's Day to those of you for whom that applies. xoxo-B

Friday, May 7, 2010

Now That Was a Retail Experience

Did you know that the Ikea in Atlanta is the largest one in North America? Or so I am told. I don't really get there much, which is odd given my tripartite reverence for things 1) Scandinavian; 2) modern; and 3) cheap. Also my reverence for meatballs, which exceeds my reverence for the first three things. Last Sunday I got to cruise down there with my sister and my mom. It's a treat enough for us to all be on the same continent. Put us in an Ikea and we are like pigs in slop.

We went with a special eye out for their fabric by the yard. I have never paid much attention to those bolts of fabric they have, possibly because I only had eyes for Marimekko. But Amy had recently made some wall hangings out of Ikea fabric that she got at her store in Sydney, so we went to the fabric and poked around.

Without further ado, ZOMG have you seen this stuff?

These are all examples of their Annamoa patterns. Holy Crapoleum. That red fox and that crab are enough to slay me. I think the whole internet already freaked itself over the Annamoa range when it came out back in the fall, but I must have been busy with something else. Amy blogged about it. But I had no idea how many different patterns there were.

So Amy and Mom and I got into the fabric section and then there was an unseemly amount of moaning. You know, like, "Oh my God look at that! Look at how cute it is! Look at it RIGHT NOW." Do you ever see something in a store that is so wonderful and perfect for you that it actually causes you discomfort, like it creates a kind of desire that's painful even as it is about to be satisfied? It was like that. A full on Ikeagasm.

Or is that only me?

Usually I'm the one to get all worked up, but Amy just ran out in front. She started getting a little bit frenzied. She was all, "This is so cute that it makes me want to hurt someone. AAAAHHH!" I knew what she was getting at. And then we saw this.
Then she kind of started to rave. You need to click that picture so you can see the little mountain goats on the footbridge, and the little snowy cabins. It's got a kind of Japanese landscape thing going on, but also Scandinavian folk tale-ish at the same time. Don't say I didn't warn you. Anyway, back to the raving. We all started to proclaim our imminent death from the cuteness. "I died. I died and I'm dead because I need this," and "I'm going to drive out and park at the beach with this fabric and climb in the backseat with it." You know, just the way you talk when you're shopping. Amy was all, "Oh I am so ANGRY because of how cute this is! I want to punch someone! $7.99 a yard, that's crazy, AAARRRGH!"

I was laughing at her freakout. Then, then, she turned to the mild-mannered Ikea employee who was cutting our fabric, and she goes, "Christopher, has anybody ever just punched you in the face because THIS IS SO CUTE?"

She said that. To the Ikea man. And this isn't really in character for her, the proposing of physical violence for textile-related reasons. She's really the polite one.

I felt pure pleasure at witnessing this spectacle. I turned to look at the nice Ikea man, and he just kind of shrugged his shoulders, or as much as he could shrug while cutting with scissors. It did not faze him. Like, "Hmm, punch someone, mmm hmm." Perhaps we're not the only ones who have basically lost our minds in there.

It can happen in there, man. It's some kind of Ikea thing. Something to do with the fumes of pressed wood and cinnamon rolls.

Somehow in the fray I wound up with two yards of that blue fabric. What wall I'm going to put this on, I have no idea. As you probably know, I am pretty much okay in the wall hanging department. My mom got two yards of the same thing. I think Amy bought one of everything, and she threw a display shelf through a plate glass window. We had to leave after that.

Amy left on Thursday night and I sure miss my shopping buddy. Not many people say things that surprise and delight me like that. And seriously, that fabric. $7.99 a yard! It is enough to drive you to the brink.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I Aced That Test

You know that PET scan I had last week? Yeah, I totally crushed that. I just met with the doctor this morning, and she said that the scan showed absolutely nothing except pockets of awesomeness, which are benign. So that's good. I think they will probably frame images from my scan and hang them in the PETmobile. Probably.

So we can stick with the plan to do three more cycles of chemotherapy, which will wrap up at the end of June. They also want to throw some radiation on there. Did I tell you guys about this? I thought I was getting to skip the radiation treatment, but the surgeon and the oncologist have been talking about me behind my back and they've decided that they want to be absolutely sure we've done everything we can to prevent a local recurrence of the cancer. So, okay, I am in agreement with that, but as I told Matt, it's like new vistas keep opening up, new vistas of crap. And he said, "Well, you don't want to half-ass it, now that you've gone to the trouble of having your boob taken off." True. He does have a flair for boiling things down.

So all is well, really, and I am feeling great. The second chemo infusion is one week away. My hair, which has been hanging in there like a champ, has started to shed a little the past couple of days. It is about like the hair-thinning you get after you have a baby, except that I guess it won't stop. It's been two weeks since my chemo and I was starting to think I was somehow exempt from the hair loss, but apparently not.

I'm okay with it. I ordered a wig, and I have some really cute hats. Actually, I've taken to carrying a hat around in my purse, like I'm going to suddenly go bald while I'm out of the house. Silly. It reminds me of how, when you're pregnant, you wonder if your water will break in public. Someone told me that her plan was, if her water broke while she was grocery shopping, to grab a glass jar of something--pickles, she thought--off the shelf and drop it. Then, I guess, she would make good her escape? Maybe I'll carry around some pickles AND the hat in case I need to really create a diversion.

I'll keep you posted on the head situation, you may be sure. Also, Amy is leaving tomorrow. Sad trombone! We have had such a good time. I gotta tell you about our Ikea trip, but that's a different post. xoxox-B

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lacking in Killer Instinct

On Saturday morning I got up at the crack of doom to take Laura to her running club's 5k race. This was her second race, I blogged about the first last fall. I love that she's involved in this and I want to encourage it every step of the way. Thus, the crack of doom. Cheerful. Bone tired but coffee-brewing. My stalwart mom came with us. (The rest of the family has been working so hard around here, and I'm really feeling very good, so I gave them the morning off.)

The race course was laid out to start and end at a big outdoor mall. It was a fundraiser for ALS, so there were a ton of people running, not just the little girls. She found a friend to run with. There was loud music, the snacks were free, and they got their hair fixed and spray painted at the Goody hair products tent. You know, important prep stuff. Then they lined up, and at 8:00 sharp the race began and about a thousand people pounded by us.

Laura had finished her first race, last November, in 36 minutes, and I figured that she'd gotten stronger and faster in six months. We found a spot near the finish line, and I told Mom that I was going to start looking for her at about thirty minutes.

The winner came in at just under 17 minutes. Wow, fast miles. Then the first little girl came in at 25 minutes. Go honey! Then a bunch more little girls, running hard. Also some dudes who had just been beaten by little girls.

Thirty minutes rolled around. I started to look up at the crest of the hill, waiting for Laura to appear. I thought I'd recognize her by her light blue shorts. We waited.

At 35 minutes, I said, "She needs to hurry if she's going to beat her old time." But no Laura. Between 36 and 40 minutes I thought, "Well, you know, maybe she's having an off day. It's not like I'm a runner, what do I know?" Still no Laura.

At this point, the people who were crossing the finish line were not the most athletic. They were definitely the ones who'd lined up in the "run/walk" part of the pack. When 45 minutes had gone by, Mom and I started to really wonder where she was. I knew I could have walked that course in that time, and Laura had left jogging. We worried that maybe she had gotten sick somewhere out of sight of us?

Then, at 46 minutes, there she was, loping over the hill, still with her friend. We waved in relief, and called out to her and cheered her, albeit slightly less wildly than we might have at 30 minutes.

But still, I'm a supportive, process-oriented, non results-stressing parent, right? So I was all, "Heeeeyyyy, great run! How was it? Yay!" She seemed happy and nonchalant, and went around to collect her T-shirt and goody bag. Okay, I figured, who knows, maybe she didn't feel great and walked a lot.

On the way back to the car, Mom pointed to the opposite side of the shopping center and asked, "So Laura, did you guys run behind the movie theater or in front of it?"

Laura said, "Well, we ran in front of it, but there was a big screen in the window showing a movie about How to Train Your Dragon, so we sat down and watched it for a few minutes."

Yes. They stopped in the middle of the race. Sat down on the sidewalk. Watched a movie.

Um, what? I said, "You stopped in the middle of the race? For how long?"

She said, "About ten minutes maybe. And Mom, it's not really a race, it's a run."


Do you see how she reframed the entire event there? Like I was harshing her mellow with my competitive pressure. I had no response to this. Or in the moment I thought it was funny. And then later I thought about how the next time I get up at the butt ass crack of dawn to take her to a 5k, I want her to do her absolute best. Or she can sit down on the sidewalk outside our house, and I can sleep until a decent hour.

This is a conversation that needs to happen when I figure out how to broach the subject again. But it is funny to me too. Like, I never thought of needing to tell her not to stop in the middle. And it is so Laura, somehow.