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.