Thursday, August 14, 2014

An open letter to my parents and all my elementary school teachers.

Hi all - 

I'm not really a stripper.

Today, my coworkers and I went to lunch. We were celebrating a birthday, and we ended up at a downtown restaurant / bar.

Now, this restaurant / bar is next door to a fabulous strip club. Actually, I don't know if it's really fabulous - I haven't been inside. But the glass entry shows an escalator. Because yes, this strip club is so fancy that it has an escalator. Or maybe it's not really fancy, but it certainly looks nicer than the club a few blocks away that has the "TOTALLY NUDE" flashing sign.

Ours is a downtown in transition.

The strip club and the bar / restaurant share a parking lot. As I wedged into the lot with several large trucks, I realized that the strip club was packed. Dudes were spending their lunch hours at the boobie buffet, if you know what I mean.

As crossed the parking lot, I noticed a few guys purposely not making eye contact. Hmm. If you're ashamed of what you have for lunch, maybe it's time to switch up your diet.

Later, my coworkers and I enjoyed a lunch of food, not body parts. One of my cohorts glanced out the window and said, "Oh, look. There's a Google Earth car."

Hmm. Recording street-level views for all the internet to see. Nice.

Capturing my car in the parking lot of a strip club. Recording it for posterity.

I related this to My Guy later. His response? "I'm gonna find that on Google Earth and send it to everyone I know!"

But really? Google Earth is providing proof to suspicious spouses everywhere! I found the current Google Earth view of the parking lot in question. While the license plates are blurred, the car makes and models are very clear. And ... there's a guy in a blue and white shirt walking across the parking lot. I wonder if he knows he's forever captured in this state.

Wouldn't it suck to be caught on Google Earth walking out of a strip club?

But, I'm off track. The point of this open letter is to let you know, before Google Earth updates its images, that I'm not currently working as an adult entertainer. I may cuss a lot, but I'm still basically a good girl.


Monday, August 11, 2014

That weird combination of happy and horrible.

My mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer.

If you just whispered, "Oh, shiiit," you're not the only one with that reaction.

But, that was a few weeks ago. The whole thing turned out to be the best possible scenario - they caught it early, and she won't need chemo or even radiation. Once she's healed up from the lumpectomy, we can kind of pretend this whole thing never happened.

Except that it did.

It turns out that I'm the official family Cancer Sherpa. As Cancer Sherpa, I know what stuff means and how things generally work. I'm the one who explained what margins are in terms of removing a tumor. I know things. I'm like a very sick version of Liam Neeson's "I have a very particular set of skills" character.

The whole thing revived the latent PTSD I have from my mom's breast cancer. You know, that cancer that I like to pretend never happened, except that it did? The cancer that now, with a mere 16 years of distance, we can all agree was horrific?

It's a fine line between sharing my experience and telling stories that aren't mine to tell. I hope my MIL doesn't mind that I share her diagnosis. And I hope my mom doesn't mind that I tell you how even now, even after the dust has long since settled, I am still traumatized and terrified by what she went through, and the scary times our family faced.

My mom is a badass. I think I've covered this. But it's still hard to believe that we are living our lives as if we're normal, everyday people. Sixteen years ago this summer, my mom was pretty sure she wasn't going to make it to Christmas. The rest of us didn't want to entertain this possibility, even though it kept knocking at the door.

Mama was given an 80% chance of reoccurrence. She had a double mastectomy with reconstruction. She went into heart failure on the table. Her body rejected some of the transplanted tissue.

Oh, shiiit.

She told me recently that she still can't believe she went through all that she did. And I opened my big dumb mouth and said, "Well, it's not like you were just going to lay down and die."

She could have. But she didn't, because that's not who she is. And I'm glad.

She's said that she knows she's a bit overzealous when it comes to her new grandbaby. But she explained that she never thought she'd see my brother graduate high school, much less get married or do something totally insane like become a parent. And so, she celebrates.

We're shell-shocked, if we're being honest, even 16 years later. But we celebrate.

And so, I'm celebrating for my MIL, and my sweet husband's family. I will be your Cancer Sherpa, and share what I know only if you really need to know it. Right now, what you need to know is that it's OK to be upset.

But I highly recommend celebrating.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's hard to write when you're up to your eyeballs in it.

After I finally left Corporate America for good, I kind of mourned all that blog fodder. What in the world would I write about if not Creepy Rajeev, the world's best sexual harasser? Or how Corporate Behemoth required me to use a tool that they wouldn't allow me to install on my computer?

It was a time of intense soul-searching.

However, never fear! I have found that crazy is all around us. Case in point: I'm currently working with a client that does everything by committee. A rather disheveled committee wherein everybody is multitasking and no one is really taking charge. Working with these folks is a lot like herding cats.

We have the guy whose email signature is "This is an email from: Bob Smith." Just in case you didn't realize you're reading an email, and that it was from Bob.

We also have the guy who makes final decisions, but then changes his mind after it's too late. You know, like after a billboard is printed and up. Little issues.

Then, there's the guy who promises to do a lot of stuff, doesn't, and then points out what everybody else is doing wrong. He's swell.

And finally, we have the guy who emailed me, took my business card, received 3 emails from me, and then left me a voicemail in which he stated, "I would have emailed you, but I don't have your email address."


Speaking of shit, it turns out that Lil' Frankfurter has inflammatory bowel disease.

Yep. Well, either inflammatory bowel disease or cancer. Or some fungal disease that comes from the Amazon. But we're betting on inflammatory bowel disease. Because who doesn't love the word "bowel?"

Lil' Frank has been on meds for about 2 weeks and, miraculously, has actually gained some weight. This is good, because I felt really, really guilty for calling him "Skeletor," even though it was so fitting because you could count his ribs from across the room. Now, you just have to be next to him to count his ribs.

So, he's still skinny, but he's gaining weight, even though he's still pooping like it's his job. I, personally, would be fine if he didn't work so much, especially since it's disconcerting to see a 5-pound dog produce a 4-pound poo. But mostly, I'm just happy that he's no longer wasting away.

So. Two varieties of shit. That's why I haven't been writing much.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Let's talk about ladybits, shall we?

So, the Supreme Court decided that it's OK for a "closely held corporation" to decide not to cover birth control in their employer-provided insurance.

On 1 hand, the 3 employees at the perennially understaffed Hobby Lobby in my hood are all over 70. They are also always on break. I'm pretty sure not having birth control covered by their employer isn't a huge deal.

On the other hand, not all birth control is used for contraception.

Case in point? Me.

Turns out that there are no 2 humans less able to conceive a kid than my husband and I. If you had a word cloud of our skill sets, you'd see all kinds of creative, technical, and cake-based endeavors. However, the term "conception" wouldn't be anywhere. It would be in the next town over, hiding out in a smoky bar, trying to buy a lucky lady a drink.

But you know who's on the pill? Me. The Baroness of Barrenness.

I'm a bit reticent to talk about this, because it's nobody's damned business. But I guess now the Supreme Court is saying that it is. Thanks, 5 old guys, none of whom own nor operate a uterus. You're swell!

So, I have some sort of horrible ladyparts curse that makes my lower abdomen hurt. A lot. Maybe it's polycystic ovarian syndrome. Maybe it's endometriosis. Who's to say? Because ladyparts are so mysterious and research is underfunded, literally no one can say without cutting me open to check it out.

Instead, I opted to go on the pill. It keeps the symptoms in check and seems a hellova lot smarter - and cheaper - than exploratory surgery.

Now, I am blessed to have rockstar health insurance through my husband. But what if I didn't? What if I worked at Hobby Lobby? Would they pay for me to get cut open, but decline to cover medication to make the cutting open unnecessary - all because they don't believe in contraception?


Stand where you will on today's ruling. But remember: I'm the woman who needs birth control. I don't need it to whore around and piss off Jesus. I need it so I can get out of bed and be a productive member of society. And I don't see where that's part of your religious freedom.

Friday, June 27, 2014

May your birthday be excrement-filled.

I just called to wish my most awesome dad a most awesome birthday. Because we just can't seem to help ourselves, the conversation took a bit of a turn.
Me: Oh, I heard back from the vet. Lil' Frankfurter's tests all came back normal. There's nothing wrong with him.

Mom: Well, pssh.

Me: I know, right? There's nothing wrong with him, except he's wasting away.

Dad: He's so thin.

Mom: Did I send you that dog food recipe?

Me: Yeah. But it doesn't matter what I feed him - he just keeps losing weight.

Mom: He eats and he poops, but nothing happens in between.

Me: Right! I mean, he poops like a champion.

Dad: I've always thought so.

Mom: He's just so cute - and you think, "oh, look at how he's sitting in the middle of the patio ... "

Me: ... and then you realize he's taking a giant dump in that delicate little stance.

Dad: He's got good form.

Me: Happy birthday, Dad! Let's talk about poop!

Mom: Well, it could be worse. It's not like we're talking about a human family member.

Dad: No. We're way too classy for that.

Me: We could be all, "Oh, say what you will about Uncle Floyd, but he could really take a dump."

Mom: Well, we all have our special gifts.

Dad: Ha! "You know, with Uncle Floyd, you always knew when it was time to leave the house."

Mom: Yeah! And "You knew it was best to let things air out a bit after Floyd had used the facilities."

Me: Sorry, Dad. This really devolved.

Dad: I would expect nothing less.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Oh, I'm on my way, I know I am.

Ten years ago this summer, I spent a lot of time alone in a sticky home office. The window A/C unit that had been passed around the family since I was in college whirred away, and I made beaded jewelry.

I had this idea that in addition to being a freelance writer, I'd also be a jewelry artist, selling my wares at art shows. Between the fledgling writing and barely there jewelry careers, I was flat broke. This was before I realized that I like wearing jewelry a lot more than I like making it, and that 1 self-employed trade was plenty.

But I would sit in my uncomfortable, second-hand metal desk chair, night after night, beading bracelets and listening to Cat Stevens. I was still young; that was my fault.

I was alone because my live-in boyfriend was gone all the time. He traveled for work. And when he was in town, he managed to be out of the house. At the gym. With friends. With a particular female friend. Not with me. Not interested in me. I was just starting to admit that perhaps this wasn't going to work out.

I would listen to the Cat Stevens CD that my brother had burned for me illegally off a library album. He'd told me about his Cat Stevens epiphany, about how the music had shifted his outlook. I took the CD, skeptical. But I'd listen to the album, and I'd be overcome with what felt like a giant bubble in my chest. It was overwhelming, like I was about to explode. But I wasn't the exploding kind. I was the nice, make-it-work kind.

I would sit, and I'd bead, and sometimes I'd bead with tears running down my face. I didn't know why. I began to sense that I was on the cusp of something big. I didn't know what it was, or I didn't want to face it yet. But it was a huge change. I was lonely. And I was scared. And I had no idea how to even begin to put any of it into words.

So, I made some truly heinous bracelets, and a few that were OK. My friends bought my jewelry because they are good, kind people. Perhaps they knew that they were investing in my future, providing seed money for my escape. I didn't realize it.

I would sweat and string beads and cry. I thought I was at the end of the world.

Turns out I was only on the edge of the world I had known.

Things got worse before they got better. But they did get better.

This weekend, I gorged myself on free HBO. Seeing Cat Stevens inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame made me think of that sticky summer, and that now-battered CD. Yusuf, I'm sorry my brother pirated your music, but I like to think that you understand. I also like to think that you know how appreciative I am of your gift of music. Thank you.

What music defines a period in your life?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Like a butterfly.

I have big, fabulous, very happy news.

Remember the bagger at my local grocery? This was a young man who found bagging very challenging, and who wouldn't make eye contact. Like an abused animal, he seemed to be willing the floor to open up and swallow him whole.

Well, a few weeks ago, I saw someone in the parking lot, wrangling carts. He looked an awful lot like my sweet bagger, except ... he was smiling. He had the most stunning, pearly teeth.

I had to do a double-take. It was, indeed, my bagger. And he was clearly enjoying cart duty. It made my heart so happy.

But then? Then! Yesterday, I was at the grocery - because I end up going like 27 times a week because my husband expects to eat every day - and I saw my bagger again. On my way into the store, he was helping a woman load groceries into her car. She was talking a mile a minute. And my bagger? Probably couldn't get a word in edgewise. But he was smiling.

Well, that was enough to make me float through the store. Which takes a lot, because grocery shoppers are generally idiots who can't manage basic cart etiquette. But I digress.

But then? Then! When I headed back out to the parking lot with my cart o' sustenance, there was my bagger again. It was the end of his shift, and he had a bottle of pop. As he got into his dad's car, he let out a triumphant "Whoop!"

I like to think he was celebrating a job well-done.

I'm so proud.