Friday, May 22, 2015

Feel Good Friday For You

I remember the day this happened, the feeling of shared inspiration, the sense that we were all one of the good guys. I walked around with a lump in my throat while smiling silly at anyone I passed. We all did.

I am so proud of my city, of this kid, of humanity. I cannot wait to see this movie and bawl my motherloving eyes out.

#ThanksBatkid

Xoxo to San Francisco and you,
S

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Fun Fact: I'm On Medium

Is it weird that I kind of want this Fun Fact to be true? I mean, not really, but a little? So I can blurt it out in lieu of small talk? I don't know, yes. That's fucked up.
I'm fucked up. Anyway, I posted a story over on Medium today. Pretty please come visit me over there.

xo,
S

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Treachery of Images (A Cumulative Tale)

It's just a chair, it's just a chair, it's just a chair...
Ceci n'est pas une chair. Or at least not the chair. No, this is the chair that replaced the chair that I took down to the basement to make room for the desk, the desk at which Ozzy is now sitting. This is the house that Susannah built.

My mom gave us that chair, the other chair. The overstuffed chenille rocking chair née chaise that I sat in while nursing/trying to nurse both my babies, the one that we cuddled in all three at once, read books in, the one that sat in the corner of Zoey's room, then Ozzy's. It now sits in a corner in the basement along with a red scooter that is too small, the couch with the broken back, boxes of photographs and the litter box. 

How can we get rid of that chair? Don't get rid of that chair. Believe it or not, Bryan is more sentimental than I. It's just a chair, I tell him, knowing full well what the basement means. It's just a chair, it's just a chair, it's just a chair...

Ozzy loves to draw. A boy who does not stop thrashing sits still to scribble-talk stories of boats crashing and monsters, dinosaurs, oceans. So when someone offered this hand-me-down desk I took it, loving how the top flips open to hold crayons and paper.
Last week I stained the wood a dark blue and hid decades worth of other peoples' stories with stickers from the surf shop down the street. Ozzy came with me and we sat and watched the older boys skate the ramp until we got hungry and went home. 
Now that the desk is finished, Ozzy says he loves it. Calls it his workspace, tells me to leave (but don't shut the door). From the other side of the house I can hear the scratch and grind of crayon hard, pock.pock.pock. as he dots something, rain or--? He does not know how to draw or do anything without intensity. 
It's just a chair, it's just a desk. A desk that was owned by two brothers from another family before him. It's just a place for a boy to create the world, whole worlds really, worlds enough to stack inside until the top no longer closes. 
This is a desk that is a cumulative tale, not the story of Susannah's house or Ozzy even, but a story of vast, fabled oceans, of life interlinked, of things that get put in the basement and back again, of boys that grow up, of overstuffed chairs all tattered and torn, the mom at once both happy and forlorn. This is the house that we are building.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hair I Go Again...

Tell me the truth: does this shirt make me look like The Boy In The Striped Pajamas?
Incidentally, if you have not yet seen or read The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, I urge you to do so immediately. Excellent book/movie. Not so good look for une femme d’un certain âge.

Not to mention un certain coif. I have found that many of my go-to looks don't "go" with my new 'do. For instance, my once-beloved skinny camo pants take on a decidedly aggressive air with very short hair. Then there's my sweater with the motorcycle on the front, my Rolling Stones tee, the raglan shirts that I bought in the boys' department. I used to wear these with all the confidence of long hair covering my neck. Don't even get me started on my favorite rainbow striped bikini. Wearing it now I feel as if I am making a statement that I don't intend to make. I mean, I'm cool with that statement. I support and respect that statement. But it's not my statement.

I made a Pinterest board for pixie cuts. Looking at it makes me excited for what is to come in an inch or so until I realize that all my pins are 100lb 25 year olds who probably wouldn't know a nasolabial fold if it smacked them in their angular faces. #Filters4Lyfe

I've decided that my style muse is Jean Seberg sans whatever led to her mysteriously od'ing on barbiturates in Paris. I know she was American, but she's got the insouciant french thing down pat.
I am pretty sure that the pesky space-time continuum does not allow me to be an ingenue anymore, but I strive for what comes next. The wide-eyed pixie after the elasticity around her eyes has gone slack. Hey, it happens.

But seriously. It's not too late. I can still return it. Does that shirt make me look like The Boy In The Striped Pajamas?

xo,
S

Monday, May 11, 2015

What Not To Say: The Short List

This is one of those posts that should start with an apology. Or at the very least, a weighty disclaimer. Because the awkward--oh. The awkward is an Andy Samberg skit played by Michael Cera dry humping Kristen Stewart that you have to watch while sitting next to your parents on the couch. 
I know.

Last week a line of empathy cards (not sympathy cards) made the rounds on the www, and if you haven't seen them yet, they are genius. Created by Emily McDowell, a designer who battled Hodgkin's lymphoma, she says, "The most difficult part of my illness wasn't losing my hair, or being erroneously called 'sir' by Starbucks baristas, or sickness from the chemo. It was the loneliness and isolation I felt when many of my close friends and family members disappeared because they didn't know what to say, or said the absolute wrong thing without realizing it."

Now I am lucky enough that my community rallied around me with more support than I ever knew possible. There has only been one or two people who disappeared because of whatever reason; otherwise, people I didn't even know well are now lifelong friends. If anything, my illness and treatment has turned me into a people-person, and if you know me, then you know that before this I was more of a stay-at-home-eat-baked-goods-and-give-side-eye-person. So while I experienced little loneliness or isolation, I have been collecting my very favorite stories of "people who say the wrong things" because, let's face it--awkward turns positive the more you point at it and laugh.
This is where the disclaimer is crucial. I have been a sayer of wrong things myself. Exhibit A: when my good friend was in the middle of chemo for cancer I offered to get groceries for her. What do you need? I said, Paper towels? Bananas? Bread? Shampoo? The last word hung in the air like a slap. She was bald. And that's just the one I know about. I am sure I have said a thousand other things that meant well but came out crooked.

I also want to say that this post is not directed at you. Whoever you are. Because I guarantee that almost everyone who knows me has said at least one of these things at some point. And I still love you, or at least like you a lot. I can also guarantee that I would probably say one of these things if I were you. But I'm not. I'm me, and from over here these things sound wrong. Even though I know they are said with the best of intention.
So let's do this.

1. When will you know if the treatment worked?
Hm. Um. Let's see. There is a sliding scale of wrong to this question. That is, if you know me very well and we are having an intimate, real conversation in which it wouldn't be a non sequitur for me to ask you about your deepest fear and expect you to honestly answer, then yeah, valid question. But if you don't know me well and this question is posed during small talk, then no. Just no. So when will you know if it worked? Would you ask a cancer patient when she might know if her chemo worked? 

2. Tell me about your disease/treatment/what happened/prognosis/I've-read-your-blog-but-need-more-explanation/I-went-to-high-school-with-you-and-even-though-we-weren't-close-then-and-haven't-talked-in-20-years-I-want-to-hear-the-story-of-your-diagnosis-oh-yeah-say-it-real-slow-and-sexy-like...
I think that because I blog about so much people expect me to be an open book all the time. At dinner parties, on the street, in the parking lot while trying to find quarters in the bottom of my purse. While I know that most questions come from a good place, sometimes it feels as if people think I owe them something, to entertain them with my health. And I don't want to, or at least I only want to on my terms. However! And this is a big however. If people want more information because I can be of help to them or someone they know with MS and they are curious about HSCT, then yes. I am a dog-eared open book with a clear table of contents and a section thick with thank yous. Not only do I owe you something then, but I owe the world if my experience can help.

3. Every time I look at your face I want to cry.
Yes, someone seriously said this to me, and yes, I still laugh about it. The good news is she later apologized. The bad news is she is not the only one to say this. Just this weekend someone else asked me to tell her the story of my sickness and treatment (see above), and then said she didn't want to cry. (Tip: then don't.)

4. So this is why you sometimes walk funny.
Nothing like pointing out that I walk funny to make me feel good about myself, life and the general state of global environmental politics. Granted, this was said by my friend who I offered shampoo to when she was bald, so touché. The important thing is that she is still one of my very favorite people on earth, so please know that if you have ever said one of these things I probably still like you. Except if I didn't before. In which case. Awkward.
No harm, no foul. 
Happy to help.
xo,
S

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

More

I was cleaning Zoey's room the other day when I saw it--my mom's old cell phone. After my mom died, Zoey asked to keep the phone because it smelled like Grandma Glitter, cigarettes and perfume. Don't look at it, I said to myself, keep moving. I folded a shirt and then said fuck it, picked up the phone, flipped it open, inhaled deeply. The smell is so faint now. It's been a year and a half and I can hardly smell her anymore.

I tried not to write this because I think sometimes/most times/all the time I am too dark. I'm afraid you will all get annoyed with my bleating. But then I think about my mom's refrigerator, all the stupid quote magnets that clung to it. If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud. This is your world--shape it or someone else will. Be Nice or Leave, Thank You. 

My mom loved David Bowie. And doing things you weren't supposed to do.
When someone you love dies people often tell you that they will live on in your memories, your laugh, in the sound of your whistle and the way you turn your head like she did. And that is true, but so is this: when someone you love dies, they keep dying. Over and over in moments. It's been a year and a half and my mom just died yesterday when I realized she will never get to be a very old woman. What would she look like with hair a puff of white? Would she have still worn eyeliner at 80? (Fabulous, and yes.)

Every now and then Zoey brings her up out of the blue. I miss Grandma Glitter, she says, and before I can cross the room to hug her she is sobbing. I do too, I say, because I don't know what else there is. Sometimes it lasts for an entire evening, Zoey hiccup crying, me trying to cheer her up, divert her attention, wondering if I should cry, should not cry, goddamnit why can't I seem to cry? Ozzy doesn't really understand, and even though whenever we cross the Golden Gate Bridge he brings her up, my mom will never know that Ozzy calls people You Frickle Mickle Pants when he is pissed. She would have loved that. Him. Her. Them at 4 and 9 and then. 

And then there is this. I think I put a pause on grieving my mom while I was being diagnosed, researching treatment, raising the money, going to Tel Aviv, getting chemo. It seems that there is a cap to how many horrible things you can focus on at once so I did not think of her much at all. Now that I am hopefully fingers crossed on the other side of something, there she is again. Dying again. Still dead. Each time like the first time when they told me she was gone. 

Maybe this is how it is, how it always will be. A constant shock that I can't call her, hear the soft crackling inhale as she smokes while talking to me on the phone, how we would have talked about how proud we both are of Bruce Jenner, how I will never know if she would have liked that book I just read. As I write this I am wearing her old robe, a singed cigarette hole in the wrist of the sleeve that I poke my thumb through sometimes as if we are holding hands, the sharp melted edges her fingernails lightly tracing my skin, though the bathrobe now smells of Tide and my tea.
Zoey teaching Grandma Glitter how to diaper a one day old Ozzy.
xo,
S

p.s. If you haven't read this post written by my mom about the first time she took mushrooms, check it out and you will see why she is so missed.

Monday, May 4, 2015

I'm Leaking (Are You?)

Question (a serious one): how do you trust your gut if you're pretty sure you have a "leaky gut" and probably shouldn't listen to a thing it says?
Because--you guessed it--I am pretty sure I have a "leaky gut." And no, it is never good to think you have a malady that you can't write, let alone say out loud without using douche quotes. "Leaky gut." The very phrase sounds made up. Like maybe I have Dropsy or Lockjaw. I am not sure what either of those things are except I know they are real, and growing up I was irrationally afraid of Lockjaw ever since I read a book about a girl who had it. Something about a rusty metal bed and how she couldn't move, but when I Googled "lockjaw girl rusty metal bed" a bunch of porn came up, so no. That's not the Lockjaw I read about when I was little.
Anyhoo. If you haven't already heard, "leaky gut" is the new black. As in everything from fatigue to depression and anxiety to autoimmune diseases may be connected to the intestinal wall. In particular to my own health, researchers are studying the connection between inflammation in the gut to progression of MS. I'm telling you, everywhere I look these days I see headlines of mucous membranes and body cavities. While part of me just wants to change my reading material, another part of me likes to be trendy. So if my possibly floppy, loose intestinal wall being too permeable is suddenly 'in,' I will totally leak my gut right down the runway. I mean, I just traveled around the world to reset my immune system. I'm thinking I should maybe go to a holistic nutritionist to run a few tests?

Thoughts? Advice? Over/under on the chances of me ever truly quitting sugar and bread?

In other news (though honestly, I've read so much on "leaky gut" now that I wouldn't be surprised if this was somehow related): I have started wearing ear plugs at night because Bryan snores so freaking loudly that I want to sucker punch him between the hours of 11pm and 6am. Unfortunately, the cats like to play with the foam ear plugs, eat them and then throw them up strategically right were I might step upon first waking, so I have to keep them (the ear plugs, not the cats) locked in my bedside table drawer. Late last night, I was woken up by Ike nibbling gently at my head trying to stealthily steal the plug from right out of my ear. Let me just say that Ike would suck at playing Operation.
Either this has nothing to do with anything and this is a real shit blog post, or it's all connected and we can give this post the holistic stamp of approval. Can you tell which way I'm leaning?

Happy Monday,
S

p.s. There is an even realer possibility that I have used these images before years ago, but I love them, the moment before disaster. Let's pretend it's the first time. For everything. Today.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

#TBT: The She Who Walks Behind The Rows Edition

For all of you sweet people who tell me I look oh-so chic with my verrrrry closely cropped 'do, please know that I thank you, I love you, but I am also in the middle of having flashbacks to 7th, 8th and 9th grade. Anticipating the awk is like waiting for a 3 year old to throw a baseball at you. You can't help but flinch.
I particularly enjoy the middle pic in which I resemble Malachai from Children of the Corn.
But, you know, it's cool. I'm cool. There are flat irons now. Papier Poudres. Products that don't necessarily contain "tiny reflective color crystals" like Pazazz Styling Mousse. I won't use Sun-In or wear turtlenecks, especially not folded over. I'm good. It's all good.
Can't wait.
(But yeah, my eyes are doing that involuntary fluttering shut flinch thing waiting for it to hit.)

xo,
S

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Double Crowned

Today I want to take Ozzy somewhere, anywhere, to a place where we can throw coins into a fountain. I want to hold my breath and drive him through the rainbow tunnel, look up at the sky at the first star together even though it is only 9 am. I want to wish and have it be heard.

Someone made the observation the other day that Ozzy and I have the same hairline at the nape of the neck, both of us curving to the left. Bryan says I have a category 3 hurricane forming at the top, a category 2 on the other side. He swirls his finger around the impending storms on my head when he passes me in the kitchen. Meanwhile the lady who cuts Ozzy's hair says that if I have another baby it will be a girl, something she can tell based on his double whorled cowlicks, an old wives tale if ever there was one. Moooo, Bryan says, pretending to lick Ozzy's hair. I don't tell the lady we are probably most certainly not having another baby.
Ozzy is having trouble with friends. The boys won't play with me, he says through lips wet with being almost 4. My heart shatters into a thousand splendid pieces. I tell him to ask nicely, to play with the girls, to maybe play whatever they are playing even if it is not a game he wants to play. Play a game you don't want to play? I repeat this in my head and hate myself for saying it, for not knowing how to fix anything.

When I was in Tel Aviv I researched everything about everything, and while talking to a professor in the waiting room about the role of alemtuzumab as a monoclonal antibody directed against the CD52 antigen of lymphocytes, he asked me if I was a nurse. No, I said, wondering why he wouldn't have assumed I was a doctor.

Because this is what I do when I don't know what to do, I Googled it. All of it. What to do when your child is shy. How to help him make friends. How to hold your breath and make a wish, because who hasn't felt invisible at one time or another? I wouldn't want to know somebody like that. There is a shared feeling to being alone, a monoclonal antibody made up of cells cloned by a parent cell. Of course Google has a vast opinion on what I should do, how I should talk to Ozzy. Google even tells me that having a double whorl in your hair is called a Double Crown, a symbol of genius to some, a promise of difficult haircuts and a future of bad hair days to others. I decided not to say anything more for now. Instead I held him tightly, his body a pleasing weight against my shoulder as he leaned against me smelling of shampoo and cereal. Today he took a robot to school for sharing. 

xo,
S

Friday, April 24, 2015

9


Dear Zoey,

9. 9?? No, seriously, 9?!?!!!!!! 

For 9 years now you have been filling the air with exclamation points, question marks, emoticons before they existed, things unsaid but always felt. (For 9 years and 9 months, actually, but ew, I know.) So 9 years.

9 years ago your dad and I left the house at 3am while the neighborhood slept silently, the stillness of the fog thick with everything that was about to happen. I remember driving across the city, how at a red light we stopped next to a truck blasting dance music, thumping the windows. How I turned to look at the young guy driving just as he turned to look at us. I couldn't help but think how different his night was than ours, how he might wake up the next morning and think about what had happened the night before, I don't know. Maybe his night was nothing. By the time we reached the hospital I was 8 cm dilated.

!!!!!!!

I had dinner with a friend of mine last night who said that turning 9 is momentous as it is halfway to a child leaving the house. I wanted to punch her for a second, because really? This is how it happens? So quickly at a dinner table over a beet salad and then you're gone, grown up. Do you want any pepper on that? No please.
God but you are beautiful. And more. I want to wrap myself around you and hold you always, hear you rattle on and on about Minecraft, read me blurbs from your graphic novels, secretly listen as you sing in your room. The truth is, I have been in a constant state of disbelief since you were born. I have a baby! I am in love! Her breath smells like warm bread! She can walk! Kick a ball! Spell exhale! How did I get so lucky? For 9 years now I have felt your own reverb as it thumped against the windows, watched as you moved through time and place, amazed at who you are and are becoming, the persistence of sound after a sound is produced. The reflections continue.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about what happened that night, that morning, to be exact. You were born at 10:52 am, the doctors pulling you from me with a tug. 9 years later and I still feel that tug, that pull, that something unsaid but always felt. 

It sounds like this.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

With all the emoticons in the world.
I love you,
Mommy

8
7
6
5 (missing)
4
3
2
1 (pre-blog)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Goal Is To Reach Intentional

I'd like to think I'm maybe 1/2" from that goal? From looking like I cut my hair into a super short pixie on purpose and am not actually post-chemo. So two months? Two months and I will look like I meant it. 
Mean it. 
Me.
Although I will say that yesterday I received my first compliment from someone who doesn't need to make me feel better. I was at West Elm when a stranger told me she loves my haircut. Thanks! I said, maybe a little too effusively. It's not actually a haircut. I had chemo. Well, it looks great, she said, and then followed me around the store telling me about how she used to live in Hawaii, some story about a man, a rainstorm; it had nothing to do with hair or west or elm, not even anything to do with trays, which is what I was buying. So perhaps she was not all there, but even halfway there, a sliver of there, a hint, a shade of thereness and I will take it. Took it. Thanked her a thousand times because I am almost there, too. A half an inch away and I will no longer be a walking reminder of how terrible things happen, but a story of how terrible things happen, and then something else happens after that. 

And then. Before she left I gave the woman a hug.

xo,
S

Monday, April 20, 2015

Back

You know how I said I would be Instagramming my trip to Yosemite? Well I kind of forgot that living deliberately like Thoreau means that there is no wifi in the woods, i.e. as soon as we crested the hill out of nowhere and my phone came back to life, I felt rather left out that I had missed the news of Kim Richards' arrest for drunk and disorderly. 

But camping! To mix literary references, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was apparently time to play a giant game of chess amongst the trees. 
If you are planning a trip to Yosemite with your kids, I cannot recommend The Evergreen Lodge enough. But only if you have kids because the place is teeming with them. Happy, dirty, loud laughing kids playing in the teepees, the swimming pool, on the zip line, playing foosball, ping pong...every night there are s'mores around a campfire. But I am not being paid to endorse them, so let's move on.

The funny thing was that there were about 5 other families from our town there, all with kids. Their kids went to the other elementary school, so I didn't know these parents and my kids didn't know the kids, but it was an instant gang of kids playing together. Which was awesome.
I'm beating around the bush here. 
The trip was hard for me. Physically, and because of that, emotionally.
This is the only photo I have of all of us, so Ozzy's gonna have to take one for the team despite that awful face he's making.
See, I am not a camper per se. Or a hiker. But I want the ability to hike if I feel like it, and yeah, I felt like it in Yosemite but I couldn't really do it. Not for long anyway. I am realizing that the damage that MS did to my body is done. I hopefully-cross-my-fingers-please-please-please stopped the progression of the disease, but the existing damage is done, and that means I can't hike more than a few miles without my back completely seizing up.
On the last day, we decided to hike to this waterfall and swimming hole. I had a feeling it was too much, but I didn't want to disappoint the kids and Bryan who really wanted to go. So we went.
It was about 2 miles both ways, up and over scrambling rocks at some points. Halfway through, my back just gave out. I had to drop to my knees every hundred yards and rest. I was sweaty, panicky, pissed off, scared. When we finally got there, we saw that the other families from our town were there, too. Zoey and Ozzy were stoked, but I felt awful.
Now let me preface this by saying: these other moms were amazingly nice. But I did not feel amazingly nice. I felt amazingly dirty, sweaty--disabled, other. I was wearing jeans, a flannel and a beanie, but when we got to the swimming hole it was super hot. The other moms were wearing bikinis. One of them had done the whole hike with her baby strapped onto her chest, and I had just barely made it myself, dragging my feet and tripping. I was pissed. At Bryan for making me do the hike. At these other moms for their long ponytails. At myself for looking like a cross between Mr. Clean and the Brawny paper towel guy with my stupid flannel that doesn't look cute without hair. It just looks butch. I felt ugly, inside and out.
Me laying down on the hike. Because fuck this shit.
But this isn't just about vanity. It's about how I feel, and how I have to accept myself for who I am now. A woman with a military buzz who has limitations.

But before that realization, on the hike back, after we had let the other families hike in front without us under the guise that Ozzy takes a long time, my walking got even worse. And I cried. Snotty, sweaty, horrible tears of I can't do this. I could see the look on Zoey's face, how she was trying to look normal when everything was not, and that killed me. I hate myself for making my family worry. For not being able to hike to a damn waterfall without falling apart. 

But I did it. I fell apart and picked myself back up, probably about 30 times. I made it back to the car.

The kids fell asleep as soon as we got in the car. I just curled up and waited for my cell phone to get service again while Bryan drove the 4 hours home.

About an hour from home the kids woke up famished, so we stopped in the middle of nowhere in a strip mall to eat at a restaurant called BJ's. It was next door to a sporting goods store called Dick's. This brought great levity back to me and Bryan who had barely spoken for most of the car ride, especially when the kids kept saying how much they love BJ's. Stop saying that, guys! Why mom? What's so funny?

Life is funny, that's what, I wanted to say. Life is fucked up and funny and sometimes all it takes is a BJ in the middle of nowhere to sit your family down around a table to talk about how they had the best vacation ever. So even though I didn't, I did, if that makes any sense.
Atta' boy.
If any of it makes any sense at all.
xo,
S

Monday, April 13, 2015

To Drive Life Into A Corner: Spring Break

Despite the fact that I have always been more camp than camping, we are going to Yosemite for Spring Break. And by "camping," I mean we will be staying in a lodge because dirt and air-borne pathogens, plus dirt and dirt. But off we go! Yay camping!
Not sure if I am including this photo because I love my cute new dress, because Grumpy Cat is my spirit animal, or just that I am a total pussy when it comes to camping...probably all of the above. Anyway, I am going to confess something really cringe-y embarrassing right now, k?

I started following Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid on Instagram.

Seriously. Don't look at me! I am a 42 year old mom who subscribes to photos of 20 year old models because I, too, want to be wearing body jewelry at Coachella. Taut tanned skin! Long, beachy hair! My hair is almost a quarter of an inch now, by the way. Quarter of a goddamned inch.

Of course I am not going to Coachella because dirt + crowds + 42 ÷ by the square root of aw hell no. I am going camping. To the woods. To live deliberately, just like Thoreau who went to the woods because he wished to front only the essentials of life, and not, when he came to die, to discover that he had not lived. Plus there's that whole part about sucking out the marrow of life, which I've always read in the voice of Sir Anthony Hopkins à la Silence of the Lambs. I do love me some Thoreau. Also apparently photos of lithe young models more beautiful than I ever was 20 years ago, but that's only because Thoreau is not on Instagram.

But I am. So this week expect me to Instagram some pics of myself not wearing body jewelry but a decidedly sexless Patagonia fleece. And a smile.

Happy Spring Break to you & yours.
xo,
S

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

5 Things That Have Nothing To Do With Each Other (And 1 Thing That Does)

1.
The first few weeks after I had Ozzy I binge watched Mob Wives while chained to my couch, breastfeeding. After the postpartum hormones wore off, I discovered Mad Men. I thought about that on Sunday as we watched the last of the Mad Men episodes. How right after my mom died we watched Nurse Jackie, something in there about nursing a connection, or pills...Breaking Bad saw us through moving from one house to the other, we watched Weeds even when we didn't want to anymore, how in the weeks leading up to me leaving for Israel we watched Friday Night Lights like it was our job, clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose, me so scared and mesmerized by Tim Riggins' hair. Binge watching these shows like a time stamp, how.

2. 
Yesterday, against my better judgment, I watched 3 hours of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, mostly because I am kurious about Bruce. But nothing was mentioned about him, so then I Googled Kim Kardashian's sex tape, 8 years after the fact, and wow. I must be getting old because it made me so very sad.

3.
I judge the shit out of anyone who puts the extra 'e' in judgment. Then I feel bad for being judgey, because judgey is not even a real word and seems like it needs that 'e.'

4. 
There is a checker at the grocery store near my house who always comments on my food choices. I don't like his face. I would get uncomfortable every time I went to the store, anticipating what he might say about blueberries and bread, so I decided to try to imagine him as a little boy and me being his mom. I thought maybe it was cute how he comments on everything, and now I love him a little bit, if that makes sense.

5.
I have been living out my childhood fantasy of playing library by volunteering in Zoey's school library once a week. Stamping books, sshhhing people, admiring selections, putting people to task for forgetting to turn books in...it is everything I ever thought it would be. And more! The week after next I am volunteering at the Scholastic Book Fair. I am totally buying that kitten poster I always wanted as a kid.

6. 
Last week I bought Zoey and Ozzy new betta fish which they promptly named Plumeria and Firetuck. I will let you guess who named who. Though don't get too attached, as this morning Plumeria was found dead. They were in separate bowls, so Firetruck had nothing to do with Plumeria's early demise.
xo,
S

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Bad Scheisse Club

This morning I woke up thinking about Teresa Guidice. I worry about her, you know, only 3 months into her 15 month sentence. Thank the sweet baby Jesus and strangely enough, I see that she is on this week's cover of Us Weekly, so hopefully I will feel better after reading that. We will all feel better.
Teresa and I are in a club together now. And just the other day I had lunch with a friend I hadn't seen in maybe 6 years; she is in the club, too. It's a sucky club. A fucked up club, The Club of People Who Have Gone Through Some Bad Shit (Bad Shit Club for short). Our club cheer is a keening of sorts that can either sound like crying or laughing, depending on the day.

There is something calming, though, about talking to a fellow club member. You don't have to dodge well-intentioned looks of pity or stupid questions. Instead you look each other in the eye, shrug your shoulders and say things directly. There is the shared understanding that life is a total asshole sometimes, something that you may think you know but you can never fully know until Bad Shit happens (and even then I have a sense that I still don't really know, please god, spit over my shoulder twice).

I don't mean to sound elitest about this. I envy those not in the club. And for the most part I don't mind stupid questions or pity, so long as they are well-intentioned. Although the other day I was at the mall and there was a lady who would not stop staring at me. I very much wanted to walk over to her calmly, place one hand on her arm and say quietly, tag, you're it. I'm not going to tell you what, I'm not going to tell you when. But you're next... 

But I didn't, of course, because that would have been mean/evil and probably against club rules.

Instead I went home and gardened. And by "garden" I mean I planted succulents in a container on my deck high up where no animals could have been in the soil because air-borne pathogens et al. Even then I wore gloves and a mask because I am not supposed to garden for a year. This is what gardening looks like now, although not pictured: the guilt and fear I have for gardening at all when I am not supposed to, I do love me some rules...
Dead ringer for Susan Powter, no?
I am also not supposed to swim for a year, not in pools or the ocean, or play in the sand. It's going to be one long, hot dry summer, let me tell you. This is what going to the beach looks like now, taken this past weekend, though truth be told this is probably what going to the beach should have always looked like, i.e. the sun damage on my chest, oy.
All this to say that I do still worry about Teresa. She's still in it, the clink, yeah, but more than that, in it. And I am out. Ish. For the most part free, though with restrictions to gardening, swimming, no mani/pedis for a year, no sushi, no raw anything, no probiotics, no, no, no. Despite all those Amy Winehouse nos, more and more my club cheer is one of laughter. Dark, maniacal, sometimes, but still. Laughter.

Keep going, Tre. You'll get there.
Off to buy my Us Weekly.

xo,
S

Monday, March 23, 2015

The In Between Place

I realize now that I am in The In Between Place. Title Case cap like that because it makes it more romantic, a Destination. Which it is, even if it does seem neither here nor there, wishy washy which at least includes a wish for. I am no longer sick but not totally well yet, and here is where it starts to unravel, reminding me of Britney Spears' I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet A Woman, which for some reason always made me think of the word taint. How quickly it all goes from point A to point perineum.
Not sure why this raccoon other than he speaks to me today. You, too, right?

This morning I just so happened to check my bank account and found a bunch of unauthorized transactions totaling $1,142.95 all made to an online Chinese gaming website called ChangYou. I thought it was some sort of sign that I need to make a personal life change of some sort until I looked closer and realized it's not Change You but ChangYou. I guess the only sign here is that I need to cancel that card. Or maybe it's a sign that it's all an unauthorized game that I didn't realize I was playing. Or there is no sign. Yeah. Probably that.

Probably being the key word. Possibly. Interchangeable with I dunno.' Because if I had to write a travel brochure for The In Between Place it would probably have some bullet points about how some mornings are perfect for going back to sleep while other mornings make you want to spring out of bed and dance your ass off to The Specials. Most definitely there would need to be this photo of a sassy Peter Allen next to that bullet point, even though to my knowledge Peter Allen had nada to do with The Specials. 
Because that's how I feel sometimes in The In Between Place. Like maracas and spangly lycra, all hips, behind me everything a blur. While other days I feel more like the raccoon, slow, timid. In general I am strong again, physically almost the same as I was pre-treatment, but I leave that almost there because. I get tired easily. Especially in the sun. A day in the hot sun makes me feel nauseated, exhausted. I guess chemo makes you very susceptible to sun damage, and ugh. Which makes me scared. And oof. I should also mention in the travel brochure for The In Between Place that sometimes communication is best done through sounds. Bah. Eh. Mm. K?

I get the feeling I am not doing a faboo job of selling The In Between Place, not that it really needs to be sold. If you're there, you're there and here we are. But that's the beauty of The In Between Place...here you have to be kind to yourself. Feel like going back to bed? Ok then, off you go. Don't beat yourself up, just nestle in. Want to turn up the volume and dance around to A Message To You, Rudy? Awesome! Go for Concrete Jungle while you're at it. It's all good here in The In Between Place. There is no expectation to change yourself or chang yourself even. In fact, I have no way of ending this post and that's cool, too. That should probably be the tagline for this brochure...The In Between Place: That's Cool, Too™.

Maybe you're here for your own reasons. If so, high five, hug, and/or we can ignore each other and go back to sleep. Or you're not really here but just stopping by to say hi, in which case, refer to the tagline.

xo,
S

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The 2015 (Hair) Farmer's Almanac

I haven't posted much lately simply because I have a new and very important job of Growing My Hair Out, second only to my first job title, CEO of the Chemo Recovery Unit, wedged somewhere in between my responsibilities as Chief Operator of Closet Organization, Taker of Too Many Cat Photos, and VP of Swallowing Handfuls of Vitamins So That My Pee Is Impressively Neon, L.L.C. 

IRL (In Real Life, for those who actually have a real enough life not to recognize the acronym), I am a writer at a cosmetics company. Now, while I love nothing more than a long morning of unloading the dishwasher and then climbing back in bed to read because unloading the dishwasher is exhausting, I do miss IRL. My job...the office chatter, the silly stories, the "circling back," the "putting a pin" in things, but also the writing about beauty products. So I thought I'd merge IRL with MLRN (My Life Right Now) and write about what I'm using in my current position of Managing Foreman Hair Farmer.*

*Bonus points that I don't have to run anything by legal and regulatory because bold faced fine print: THIS IS JUST MY OPINION. I don't actually know what I'm talking about unless you count too much time spent reading crap on the internet about hair growth products, in which case I should totally get a raise.

First up: the obvious heavy hitter Nioxin. Perhaps not so obvious: I am wearing my glasses because they make me look like I know what I'm talking about. The most obvious of all: I don't really know what I'm talking about, except that everything I read online said to use Nioxin over Rogaine after chemo. So I promptly bought Nioxin and only feel slightly silly lathering up my bald head with shampoo and conditioner. I refuse to repeat.
See also: all wigs used in this post are from the kids' dress up box, i.e. I would never rock one of these IRL or even MLRN, although the above long black bob may be a look I pass through in a few years time. This turquoise Garth, not so much...
True story: I once doubled the marshmallow amount while making Rice Krispie Treats because I figured if 4 cups of marshmallows was yummy then 8 cups would be heavenly. Of course it was an inedible brick of corn starch and I ended up throwing the whole thing in the trash because I couldn't pry it out of the pan. It is this same faulty reasoning that made me think that if one Nioxin product is effective, then 5 is...?
Yes, I bought Nioxin shampoo, conditioner and three different treatments. No clue what one treatment does over the other. How many ways can you grow hair? It was only after I bought them, opened and used them did I hear that there is a rebound effect with Nioxin, meaning that it works, sure, but once you stop using it you shed hair at a faster rate. Also? I don't know why my hand looks so small in the above photo, or my head so large. I look sad. Perhaps a side effect of too much Nioxin and/or a Monster High wig.

I am currently undecided if I should stop using the Nioxin (thoughts?), but what I do feel good about is Biotin.
The au naturale route, Biotin is a conenzyme necessary for cell growth, the production of fatty acids and assists in maintaining a steady blood sugar level. It strengthens hair, nails, and may help treat nerve damage. I take 10,000mcg/day which is on the high end. Double down on the marshmallows and all that...

Which brings me to Goop, as all beauty roads lead to Gwyneth. My friend told me that she read an article in which Gwyneth swears by Viviscal, so duh. I did a little research and bought some, too. Viviscal is a supplement that contains vitamin C, Niacin, Biotin (more!), Iron and Zinc, plus millet seed and horsetail extract, which just sounds hairy, so. Something about nourishing from the inside out makes me feel better about being so shallow as to care about not having hair.
Just noticed I am flashing some sort of gang sign in the above photo. 'V' for Viviscal or vagina, you choose. Or we can just call it a Victory.

Speaking of shallow--next up we have lashes and brows. Also, I ran out of wigs.
Full disclosure: I ordered Latisse while still in Israel because nothing makes you feel sicker than not having eyelashes or eyebrows. Latisse comes with individual applicators, one for each eye so you don't spread infection. I use it on my top lash first, then sweep whatever is left over on the applicator onto my eyebrows. So far, I haven't seen a big difference on my lashes. They are still pretty sparse. But holy chia pet, people! My eyebrows are like 7th grade Susannah, before the 90's came along and I tried to replicate Drew Barrymore's eyebrows from her Guess campaign. Suffice it to say, my eyebrows are currently the hairiest part of my body, which is a surprisingly sexy look.

So that's my current regimen. Along with taking magnesium, turmeric, CoQ, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. I am a veritable vitamin-taking, hair-growing machine. 

As such, I tried taking an up close photo of my hair to show you how it is growing, but up close it looks like a manscaped scrotum that has been neglected. So instead you get this moody shot. I swear there is hair there. Hopefully more to come, because this Hair Farmer's Almanac sees a season of growth in the next month or two, along with strong nails, clear skin and pee so neon bright it glows in the dark. Sometimes side effects are actually quite cool.

xo,
S