I have eaten
the cooked bacon
that was in
you were probably
saving for our kid’s
it was delicious
*With apologies to William Carlos Williams.
I have eaten
the cooked bacon
that was in
you were probably
saving for our kid’s
it was delicious
*With apologies to William Carlos Williams.
A not-so-secret secret: I don’t like children, unless they’re my own, both of whom are better looking, smarter, funnier and all-around more loveable than anyone else’s kids. Just ask me. Or them.
Unfortunately, the kids in our neighborhood (and various small animals) gravitate toward me. I suspect this is because I’m so short they simply cannot believe I’m a full-fledged adult. Or maybe it’s because I’m not above whipping up a batch of cookies and offering them as many as they’d like if they’ll GO HOME and eat them. Hard to say. Also unfortunate: some of the kids in our neighborhood are just downright stupid. No, I mean it. They’ll come over and ask my son to play outside with them, then swarm my yard until the sheer noise of the throng drives me nuts.
Now, when I say “throng”, I mean it. There’s one family in the neighborhood that consists of six siblings and an endless rotation of cousins (at least two on any given weekend), all of whom are required to play outside as a group, despite the vast difference in their ages, and add two other pairs of siblings — who also seem to come as a unit, like “Invite one! Get two!” — plus my son. Now, I suck at math but that’s
a coven a shitload of children. All playing in my yard.
(Come to think of it, I bet their parents send them with instructions to play in my yard just so they can get a break from their noisy little brats. Oh man. THAT is going to come up at the next block party, I assure you.)
Anyway, after a while I just can’t take it anymore. By that point, they’ve played ‘Ding Dong Ditch’ a half-dozen times even though I never, ever bother answering when the bell rings. (All of the neighborhood parents, having been similarly victimized by this stupid game, know to knock .) They’ve each had a turn being It in Hide-and-Seek, which means I’ve heard “One…two…three…um, six…twelve…five…”
at least a dozen a shitload of times. And, more often than not, I’ve passed out numerous Band-Aids or ice packs, depending on whether they were riding bikes or playing tag that day.
Then I snap.
That’s when I’ll go outside to pass around cookies — “Take one for each hand and GO HOME, kids!” — and they’ll stand there, grasping their cookies, completely oblivious to the GO HOME part, until I say for the fourth or fifth time, “No, really. It’s time to GO HOME!” That’s usually sufficient enough to set them on their way, although I’m not above pointing out to the stragglers that if they continue hanging around they have to give me back their cookies. After all, we had a deal.
But it never fails: some kid always forgets something at my house — gloves, a hat, their Pokemon cards. (Once, I even found a rather nice lacy bra, which is weird since none of the kids are old enough to wear one. I didn’t know which kid to confront, so I put it away for safekeeping. That, too, will come up at our next block party. Count on it.) Fortunately, the kids never realize they’ve forgotten something, so I don’t have to worry about the doorbell ringing again just when
I’m finally getting my drunk on to settle my nerves things are calming down around here.
Now, on one recent evening after VH, the Big-Eyed Boy and I had finished our dinner and gone downstairs to watch TV together, I kept hearing things. At first, I thought I heard a bump in the garage but figured it was just our cat, who sometimes likes to go out there to smell what’s new. A few minutes later, though, I was certain I heard someone talking, but by the time I’d nagged VH into tearing his hypnotized gaze from the TV to find the remote and mute the volume, the noise had stopped.
“You’re hearing things,” he told me.
“Well, duh,” I said. “Isn’t that implied when someone asks ‘Did you hear that?‘”
A few more minutes went by, and this time I was certain: someone was knocking on the door. And that, of course, means one of the neighborhood parents was standing on my doorstep. And THAT means some kid did something stupid while they were here, so I glanced at mine to see if he looked particularly guilty, but he was obviously as confused as I was. Which is why I sent him to answer the door. Who (besides me) is going to go off on a kid, right?
He came back to the basement shrugging. “No one was there. Guess someone’s playing Knock, Knock Ditch?” He thought this was particularly funny until we heard yet another knock, this time louder. Only, this time I could tell it wasn’t coming from the front door, but from the garage, instead. As in, the door inside the garage that opens into the kitchen. So I raced up the stairs worried that we’d left the big, outer garage door up and some thief was now trying to get in our house. (I know, I know: like thieves would knock, right?) So I grabbed the baseball bat we keep in the coat closet and flung open the door to confront the intruder.
The instant I flung open the door, I saw that the large, outer door was closed and realized we must’ve trapped a wild animal inside. And just as I was realizing this, that very animal emitted an ear-piercing scream. Naturally, I screamed, too, and it went on like that for several long heartbeats: the beast screaming, me screaming, both of our screams making the other one scream.
That’s when I pulled it together and took a good look at the rabid thing and saw… it was a three-year-old little boy who’d tagged along with an older sibling to play with my son earlier. And, from what I could decipher between his chest-shaking sobs and snot bubbles, he’d crawled into my minivan in the garage and fallen asleep while everyone else was playing, only they’d forgotten all about him when it was time to go home. (Naturally, they’d taken their cookies anyway.)
He was obviously terrified, and who wouldn’t be, waking up in someone else’s dark garage and not remembering how the hell they’d got there.
It’s scared the crap out of ME every time it’s happened. Poor little guy. So, holding him at arm length while I wiped the snot off of his face with a wad of disposable tissue, I assured him I’d walk him home and, yes, he could have his two cookies.
Now get this: when his mother finally came to the door, she had the audacity to ask why I didn’t know her son was still at my house, much less that he’d crawled into my van and fallen asleep. It was such an unexpected, blame-shifting question that I just stood there and stared, blinking slowly, my left eyebrow raised in that disdainful, Spock-like way that I’d practiced in front of the mirror for hours when I was a kid.
Eventually, she’d replayed her own words in her head. She has one of those faces that pretty much telegraphs every thought in her head as it happens. One minute, she was scowling at me, her eyebrows lowered into an angry V over her nose and jaw jutting forward beneath puckered lips. The next, her face went blank and slack, like she was listening to some far-off tune. Then — BOOM! — it hit her: why didn’t she know her son was still at my house? And that’s when I turned on my heel and left her standing on her front porch, contemplating her own stupidity and calculating how long it’d take the story to make its rounds of the neighborhood.
The next afternoon, the same neighbor came knocking on my door bearing a plate of homemade cookies and an apology for having gone all unreasonable on me the night before. As she explained — and she was very nice and contrite about it — with so many kids in the house, sometimes it’s easy to lose track of them, which is why they’re supposed to keep an eye on each other, too. I totally get that. Really, I do. I can’t imagine having more than my own two, who keep me at my wit’s end. So we made nice and everything, and we were all smiles and stuff, as I closed my front door.
But just in case, I tossed the cookies into the trash. Who knows what snot-nosed kid of hers had touched them.
This is the first year in memory that I’m making New Year’s Resolutions. But, as I’ve realized recently: we either grow as people, or we just grow to be old people. So here’s my list; ambitious it is not:
1. I will plan to blog more often.
2. I will try to eat more veg and less processed foods
3. I will do my best to “get” Twitter.
4. I will make time to exercise on weekdays.
5. I will drink less.
6. I will work at resisting change less.
7. I will read more stuff that makes me seem smarter.
8. I will think less negatively.
9. I will remind myself that every asshole has a momma who sees something special in him/her.
10. I will try to be nicer to my husband when he’s not pissing me off.
If you caught last night’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, you know the power went out at Candlestick Park not once, but twice during the game. PG&E, the company providing the stadium’s power, says they still don’t know what caused it. Oddly enough, the outage was entirely limited to the football stadium; no one else in San Francisco experienced the blackout.
Needless to say, this has caused all sorts of speculation about the real cause. Some folks say Steelers LB James Harrison must have run into the power grid with his helmet. Others suspect it was part of a ploy to get more money to rehab the 51-year-old stadium.
My theory? Karma was doing me a solid.
See, we’d just finished dinner and, instead of tackling the dirty dishes piled in the kitchen sink (because I’d handled the cooking), the Venomous Hubby sat down to watch football. This, after pretty much sitting around all day Sunday watching football while I handled all of the holiday preparations by myself. Rather than start an argument over the matter, I shrugged and told him to enjoy the game while I went upstairs to read. After all, the dishes would still be there after the game, right?
Not two minutes later, VH came trudging upstairs to not only do the dishes, but to finally install the tv wall mount in the kitchen. The one that lifts the kitchen TV off of the sideboard, finally frees up a much-needed horizontal surface area to which I can move the pile of papers that has been taking over my kitchen island. The very one that I’d asked him to install LAST Christmas, with little success, because he was too busy watching football then, too.
And the truly funny part? The instant he’d moved the TV to its new mount and turned it on to make sure everything was working, the power went back on at Candlestick Park.
Thanks, Karma, I owe you one!
With just one week left until Christmas, my husband and I have been busy all weekend working on our respective To Do lists. Now that I’ve put our lists on the same page, I can understand why!
So, you know why Santa says “Ho, Ho, Ho!” around this time each year? It’s not that he’s laughing. Oh, no. He’s reminding husbands of the only person who’ll have the energy for sex after their wives have spent the weekend working themselves ragged while they watched football.
Have I ever told you that Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday of the year? It’s true, I love it even more than Christmas (sorry, baby Jesus) or my own birthday (which really ought to be a national holiday, don’t you think?) despite the lack of gifts associated with Thanksgiving. See, it’s all about the food. Or, rather, the lack of guilt over eating it. What other meal is it not only acceptable, but actually encouraged, to gorge one’s self to the point of pain and then, as soon as a bit of wiggle’s returned to the waistband of your pants, do it again and again? As someone who loves to cook — and to eat — it’s the perfect holiday!
Or, rather, it would be the best holiday of all if there wasn’t pressure to get together with far-away family members, particularly She Who Must Not Be Named, who begins
her campaign of terror and manipulation hinting about getting together for the holidays sometime in March.
Last year, I was smart enough to pre-empt her visit by inviting my mother who waited until the last minute (at my request) to let me know she couldn’t make it. By then, it was too late for SWMNBN to make travel plans. Even the discount car rental places were all booked up. Pity.
This year, I really can’t get out of it. After all, I stayed home alone this summer when VH and the Big-Eyed Boy went to
pay homage visit. Fortunately, she can only stay three days, and not the marathon week- or two-week visits of years past. Sure, it still means the same amount of vacuuming, scrubbing and dusting, and I’ll be making — and doing the dishes by myself after — three meals a day while she’s here. But it’s only three days and, best yet, she’s flying out ON Thanksgiving morning.
That’s right: I’ll be getting the holiday visit with her over before the actual holiday! If you ask me, that’s a good enough reason to have a second piece of pumpkin pie. Maybe even a third.
The kitchen is really the center of our house, as it probably is in yours, too. Ours has a fireplace and one wall that’s almost entirely windows. You can’t enter the house without traipsing through or past the kitchen, and since I’m an avid home cook, most of our visitors wind up hanging out there. So I guess it’s not surprising that the kitchen is the room for which I have the biggest plans, and yet the room in which we’ve done the least.
Oh, we’ve rid the room of the hideous roosters and apple green paint. We repainted the wood cabinets and replaced their contractor-grade door- and drawer-pulls with tiny silver spoons and forks I bought at an antiques store. When our refrigerator died a couple of years ago we bought one that actually matches the other appliances. I felt like a real grown-up then.
One thing we haven’t fixed? The floor. The white porcelain tile floor that shows every drip, drab and crumb. The white floor that’s still shiny enough in most spots to make it obvious when I skip mopping for the day. The white tile floor that is cracked in at least a half-dozen places where we walk, while by the stove there’s an entire tile missing so I have to keep a mat there to cover the subfloor.
I hate that floor.
So why haven’t we replaced it? Well, like a lot of things in our lives, it still works. That is, we’re not walking on plywood, and spills are still easy enough to mop up. (Daily.) But the main reason is because ripping out a porcelain tile floor is a truly tedious, back-breaking job that involves spending hours on one’s knees wielding a hammer to crack the tile, then a chisel to get down to the subfloor, then a wheelbarrow to cart loads of broken tiles out to the garage where our trash company will not pick them up. That means, getting them out of the house doesn’t mean the work’s done: we still have to load them into the van and drive them to the city dump, one van load at a time. It’s work for young people, I tell you, which is probably why we should have made it our first project in the house since these last six years have been doozies.
Today, though, I decided I could stand it no more. I’d taken the kitchen rugs out to the deck so I could mop the floor (again), and forgot to bring them in before washing the breakfast dishes. One wrong move and — YOWZA — a cracked tile sliced a nice chunk off the bottom of my foot. Naturally, I bled everywhere.
Now, I could’ve cleaned up the carnage. That’s one nice thing about porcelain: blood splatters wipe up real well. But I’d already mopped the dang thing once today; I wasn’t about to do it again. So, after tying a kitchen towel to the bottom of my blood-soaked foot, I hobbled to my husband’s tool bench and found his hammer and chisel. By the time I needed to pick my son up from school, I’d only been able to crack up and haul out six tiles. SIX! And meanwhile I’ve worked so hard that my knees are locked up, my back is aching, and my hand has stiffened into something sore and claw-like.
So I’ve decided I was right: tearing out this tile really IS a young person’s job. As it happens, I know a young person with destructive tendencies and too much time on his hands. A young person whose adolescent hormones have lately led him to mouth off far too much for my liking. A young, smart-mouthed person who, when it comes down to it, is behind 99% of the drips, drabs and crumbs that made me hate this white porcelain tile floor in the first place.
Now, every time he mouths off, talks back, argues, rolls his eyes, calls me names or even breathes funny, he’s required to crack, remove and haul out one tile. At the rate he’s been at it this afternoon, we’ll be down to the subfloor in my 20′x26′ kitchen this weekend.
I love it when a plan comes together.
As you no doubt know by now, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. If the store shelves full of products suddenly packaged in pink didn’t clue you in, then the endless headlines about breast cancer detection, the marathons and walks to raise funds for breast cancer research, and the little pink ribbon buttons worn by people who have had, or who’ve known someone with breast cancer, surely reminded you about the effort to stop this killer of both men and women alike.
Now it’s my turn to tell you my story.
Back in August, I woke up with an itchy right breast. At first, I thought a mosquito must’ve found a particularly tender spot. Lord knows, I’m a mosquito magnet. If there’s one in our house, it’ll fly right past the Big-Eyed Boy, past the Venomous Hubby and any guests we might have, and head for me, even if I’ve bathed myself in mosquito spray (my summer perfume, as we call it). So this itching? I figured it was nothing to worry about. The next day, I woke up to find the side of my breast was deep red. Had I scratched that mosquito bite like crazy in my sleep? I slapped some hydrocortisone on it and put it out of mind as best I could.
As it happened, the following day was my regularly-scheduled breast self-exam. I do mine in the shower. It’s easier, and it gives me something to do while my hair conditioner sinks does its thing. In other words, I’m usually thinking about other stuff while I do it, but this time was different. This time, I found a lump. In my right breast. The one that was now also slightly swollen, still itchy, and still incredibly red.
There’s really nothing that can prepare a woman for finding something like that. Oh, we’re all used to our breasts doing strange things around a certain time of the month: they get larger and tender. If you really want to scare the hell out of yourself you’ll do your self-exam at that point. All the hormone-filled ducts and lobules in there feel like a science project when you’re having your period. This lump felt nothing like that. But since it was nowhere near the red, itchy space, I decided to wait and see if it changed much.
Two weeks later, when it was large enough that even my husband noticed it, I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I made an appointment with my doctor for my annual womanly checkup for the following week and, again, put it out of my mind. Meanwhile, the itching never subsided, and the redness never quite went away. Darned those mosquitoes!
At the doctor’s office, I waited until she’d done a cursory breast exam before mentioning the lump that I’d found. After all, as well-endowed woman (though not so large-chested that I need to weigh the things on a platform scale of their own), I’m used to my breasts doing weird things. She hadn’t felt a lump, so maybe I’d just imagined it? I told her what I’d found, and she went back to probe further. Sure enough, she found the thing, too, right there at the base of my breast, buried quite deep, and almost like it was part of my rib. Except it was round, and it moved.
“Probably nothing to worry about,” she said. “Maybe a cyst. But just to be sure, let’s send you for a mammogram and an ultrasound.” So, off I went for my first-ever mammogram (yes, I should’ve had one a few years back but I’ve been lazy). The radiologist said it was perfectly clear — he didn’t even see the lump that we’d all felt — and cancelled the ultrasound. Back at my general physician’s office, she just about blew her lid. After all, a mammogram that doesn’t show you a clearly palpable lump isn’t an accurate mammogram, is it?
The following week — a month after I’d first felt the lump, for those who are counting — my doctor sent me to a different place for an ultrasound. There, they found the lump and, for good measure, they took screens of the red, swollen, itchy part, too. (By then even I realized that mosquito bites don’t last that long.) But, being a professional, neither the radiation tech nor the radiologist told me anything about it.
The following day my GP’s office called to tell me they were referring me to a surgeon. No, no reason to worry, they said. Breast cancer isn’t itchy, cancerous tumors aren’t smooth and round like mine, and, besides, nothing looked malignant on the mammogram or ultrasound. But it’s best to be safe than sorry, so off I went to the surgeon’s office the next day.
Only by that point, my right breast was incredibly painful. We’re talking shooting pains that felt like someone was stabbing me with an ice pick. And when those weren’t happening, it just ached. Then again, a lot more people had fiddled with my breast in the past day than in the past, oh, 15 years that I’ve been with my husband. So I did my best not to punch the surgeon as he, too, palpitated it, found the lump, declared that it’s probably not cancerous because it’s smooth and round and painful (apparently, breast cancer neither itches nor hurts). But, since the thing was right on my bra line and it hurt, we should probably take it out.
Last Monday, I went in for surgery. Honestly, I don’t remember much of it except that the anti-anxiety stuff they gave me before wheeling me into the operating room was good. So was whatever they gave me in there, because even though it was just supposed to sedate me, I don’t recall a damn thing. In fact, my next memory is of a flock of nurses descending on my bed as I came out of anesthesia, apparently screaming for my husband to come help me. Wisely, they bustled him to my side.
One hour later, I was home on the sofa in my pajamas with an ice pack clutched tenderly against the four-inch incision on my chest. And that’s how I’ve pretty much spent the past week: clutching either an ice pack or a heating pad to my chest, in my pajamas or something equally loose-fitting, doped up on pain meds at first but now just popping ibuprofen as needed. Since I hadn’t remembered any of the things they’d told me in post-op, I didn’t know at first that I’d need a sports bra two sizes larger than I usually wear (which, believe me, is NOT easy to find!) so I’d worn my regular bra. Big mistake. That caused a hematoma, which in turn led to more pain, which in turn led to slower healing. So slow that I’m frankly at the point where I don’t care what they pulled out of me. I’m just tired of this taking up space in my brain.
So, what did they find? I still have no idea. Although my one-week follow-up with the surgeon had been scheduled this past Monday, he’d been called in to a surgery that ran much longer than expected so they called to reschedule. The next date that worked with his schedule, my husband’s and mine was this Friday.
Yes, I’d like to have had the results earlier, but as everyone’s pointed out: if it was cancer they’d probably have dragged me down there ASAP. Besides, as I’ve been told by my doctor, the initial radiologist, the surgeon, and the pre-op nurse, breast cancer isn’t painful or itchy, and cancerous lumps aren’t smooth and round, so we’re all certain there’s nothing to worry about.
That makes me lucky, I know, and so many women who go through this same experience aren’t. Having been through this, I’ll never be able to look at the color pink without thinking of those women who’ve lost their lives to breast cancer, and the women who’ve yet to be diagnosed. I’ll think of them not just this month, when it’s Breast Cancer Awareness, and not even just this year that I’ve gone through my own scare. When you’ve gone through something like this — even when you’ve been lucky — you can’t put it out of your mind.
I hope you don’t have to wait until you, or someone you know, goes through this kind of scare before you start wondering why there isn’t more being done to stop this killer. Why insurance companies and even our government are trying to discourage regular mammograms. Why, when we know certain chemicals in our food supply feed cancers like this, we aren’t doing more to eliminate those lethal concoctions. Why, even with all the headlines about how 1 in every 8 women will be diagnosed with this, so many women skip their monthly self-exams and annual mammograms. Because, trust me, not knowing doesn’t spare you from a damn thing.