Thursday, April 28, 2016

Of mammograms and mental breakdowns.

Up next, in another exciting episode of "Breast Center" ...
Nothing. Nothing happens in the latest installment of your least-favorite cheesy drama and mine, "Breast Center."

I went in for my regular mammogram. My Guy was out of town, and the night before the boob smooshing, I woke up screaming because I thought there was a man with a rope standing next to my bed.

Ha. Hahahaha. I might have been a little stressed, even though I haven't had any problems of the boob variety.

But I went to the Breast Center like a normal 40-year-old ladyperson for my almost normal-like mammogram. Except I upgraded to the 3-D mammogram, even though it cost an extra 60 bucks that wasn't covered by insurance. Me and and my mega-dense rack? We're worth it.

The Breast Center was crazy busy. There were lots of women in the waiting room. Per usual, I was the youngest. I played with my phone and I waited. And waited. And started to panic.

When your grandma died of breast cancer and your mom survived a nasty bout of it by the skin of her teeth and you had your first lumpectomy at 23? Well ... you're a poseur.

I was totally pretending that everything was normal and fine. I purposely scheduled my appointment first thing in the morning so I didn't have time to worry about it. But that packed waiting room gave me time to think and panic and stew and wait for the other shoe to drop.

Would this be the year? Would it be now that I find out that ha ha ha, my get-of-jail-free cards are up? I've basically gone vegan, but would that just be a cruel joke that failed to protect me while also severely limiting my restaurant options? Would I be a very, very sad case?

But when the tech called my name, I smiled, and asked how her day was going, and made small talk as we walked down the hall. I put on the cape. My breasts were manipulated between the plastic shelf thingys. It took no time at all and then I got to leave.

As I walked to my car, I looked at the two spots in the parking lot where I have sat in my car and cried. Ahh, first cyst - I was just a baby! And look - where I called my then-fiance in tears over Antoine, the TBD breast lump. Oh, the memories!

I had to be snarky about it or I'd be in my car crying once more. And I've started wearing mascara again, so that just didn't work for me.

I held my breath for 2 days but never got the dreaded "abnormality" phone call. And then I got the letter saying that they didn't see anything but oh, by the way, did you know that your boobs are mega-dense?

Yes. Yes, I know. I never need to carry a hammer. I just use my boob to drive nails.

I try to be a lady of grace and dignity. And I try to be calm and know that Jesus is behind the wheel and I shouldn't stress out because stress causes cysts.

But sometimes? Especially when I'm sitting in the Breast Center waiting room? I freak the fuck out.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

In which I flip the double bird during a business meeting.

A few weeks ago, I was catching up with one of my dearest friends from college. She's a TV producer, and talked about how the business has changed in the 20 years since we've been out of school.

"It's all young go-getters and they're out for blood," she said. "I used to be driven, but now? Well, now, I don't care. I just don't care. I want to do my job. I'm not out to set the world on fire or impress my boss. I just don't care."

She looked at me sheepishly and then was somewhat surprised when I slapped my hands on the table and yelled, "Me, neither!" in the middle of a packed restaurant.

I care, but I don't care. I don't care about impressing people or being the first or best or whateverest. I want to do good work. But it doesn't have that very personal, very life-or-death feel that it used to. It just ... doesn't matter.

I believe this is the mythical "everything changes once you're 40" mellowness that people whisper about. It's like the next step beyond when I realized in my 20s that nobody cares what my hair looks like, even though 13-year-old me refused to go buy mulch with my mom until after I washed and dried my perm.


This 40-year-old freedom doesn't have a name, but I have given it a symbol. And that symbol isn't iconic music, or dance, or poetry. It's the double bird, because that pretty much embodies how I feel about most things. Also, it still feels like a minor act of rebellion. Flipping somebody off? Kind of amateur. But flipping somebody off with both hands? You really don't care. And folks best mind your awesomeness.

And so I was meeting a new woman in a business setting. And we got to talking, and she mentioned that she was turning 40 soon.

"Oh, you're gonna love it," I said. "I turned 40 not that long ago."

"It already feels different," she said. "More relaxed."

I nodded. "Yeah, now I pretty much just feel like this all the time."
And instead of being horrified or plastering a fake, get-this-weirdo-out-of-here smile on her face, my new friend relaxed just a tiny bit and exclaimed, "YES! That's it exactly!"

I don't know why turning 40 is supposed to be a bummer. I feel richer and fuller than ever. And classier. Obviously.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

In which I break the baby.

My Guy and I are learning to embrace the DINK lifestyle. It's going pretty well, except we often ask each other, "If we don't have kids, why don't we have nicer stuff?"

Yeah, I got your '03 Honda right here.

But while we're enjoying our not-new-but-not-sticky stuff, we're also dealing with The Baby Give and Take.

The Baby Give and Take is a well-intentioned but very awkward dance wherein people insist we hold their babies or babies of other folk. The thought seems to be a combination of "This is the best baby ever!" and "You must bond with the baby!" Sometimes, there's a touch of "If you hold a baby, you'll finally decide to adopt!" thrown in.

Now, I like babies just fine. Their heads generally smell amazing. And holding babies is cool. They're warm and cuddly and what's not to like? But The Baby Give and Take means a baby is forced upon me or my darling husband. And then, to fulfill the "and Take" part of it, someone swoops in and whisks the baby away the second the infant makes a sound or gives even the slightest indication of not being 110 percent happy. There's generally no "Oh, she's fussy - do you want me to take her?" It's more like, "Jesus, people! Don't break the baby, you savages!"
I thought it was just me. But My Guy has commented on it - it happens to him, too. The administrators of The Baby Give and Take - who are both baby owners and baby friends and family - seem to be kind people who want to include us. But the whole thing makes us feel like idiots who have no social skills and failed the child care unit in home ec.

Not being parents means that we are bystanders to many of our peers' experiences right now. It means that maintaining those relationships takes extra care and work. And that's OK. But no one is helping the cause through The Baby Give and Take. What if the mere sight of an infant still made me explode into an infertile lady shame spiral? What if holding a baby made my kind and sensitive husband look for a drifter to kill?

The Give is bad enough. But The Take? The Take just says, "Well, bless your heart. I see you made an effort, but here, let me take that baby off your hands since you're clearly incapable of keeping it alive for more than 30 seconds."

Quit making me hold the baby. Or let me hold the baby when I ask and then let me hand her off in my own time. Or let me hide in the bathroom. Just ... let me be.

Also? My dachshund is mega-cute and won't require orthodontia or college. So, there's that.