Archive for the ‘you’ve got to be kidding’ Category

Awesomely, I am cancer-free.  I’d call for a hallelujah but I’m not religious like that.  Oh come on, HALLELUJAH!

After hacking most of my arm off (no, not really) at the end of June and taking the sentinel lymph nodes to task for falling asleep on the job, I got a clean bill of health, well, at least as far as that no-good-piece-of-crap cancer is concerned.

The scar is nasty – pic at the bottom for you ewwwing pleasure – but I’m posting it as a service.  When they say “wide excision” and your general practice doc says “you’ll be a bit disfigured” and “your career, ha, as an arm model is out the door!” she’s actually NOT KIDDING.

So melanoma patients: I was a scaredy cat.  I read the survival rates online, got the shit scared out of me and ran for the hills.  I relied on my surgeon and dermatologist to provide the information about the cancer and methods of treatment.  That worked for me.  I DID try to research what a “wide excision of the arm” would look like with little luck.  I need more pictures people!  So it’s a public service to all you other searchers.  Look.

So, to recap, that mid-may diagnosis of melanoma turned out to be The Real McCoy but I am now cancer-free.  The follow-up for me is dermatologist visits every six months and the oncologist for chest x-rays and blood work once a year.  I can’t quite believe I’m a cancer patient, albeit the very best sort.  My last words on the topic?  You’re not too young to get it so get yourself to a skin-check.  It’s worth the 15 minutes of being stared at with a magnifying glass.  And some of you might enjoy that!



Posted: 24 June 2009 in you've got to be kidding
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Today, I was selecting books to get rid of to make more space in the library.  I pulled several in the parapsychology section out halfway, getting them ready to shelve on a cart.  When I bent down to look at the bottom shelf, a book flew out and nailed the back of my head.  The title?  Telekinesis.


One of the things I enjoy most about the place I work is the ability to be out and not once worry about backlash or changes in policy that would mean I couldn’t do my job.  In general, I feel like where I am in has changed just enough that I feel insulated from the homophobic judgement I might have faced working in some other countries.  Hell, I enjoy having a language in which I can refer to my partner without having to specify gender by the very nature of the word.  More importantly, I don’t have to worry anymore about whether I’ve specified a gender that will earn discrimination and condemation.

Although the State Department has come a long way in ensuring that gay members aren’t fired simply because they are gay (presumably a gay person was more susceptible to blackmail), I’m still sad to see areas in which the Department (and the nation) have yet to recognize gayness as a normal human feature.  Worse, I get a hollow sort of feeling when I see people who, while gay, don’t recognize it in themselves as a feature worth having and so stay closeted to their families and coworkers.  I know it’s naive to assume everyone can just be out and proud, but that’s what causes the gut wrenching feelings – there should never be a barrier to being out.  (I’ve handled this indelicately so far.  Suffice to say I’m aware that there’s a long way to go.)

Several months ago one of the officers that I worked with was killed.  I have fond memories of his eagerness to get started at a new post.  However, his trepidation at being gay and single overseas in service to the Department startled me.  I think, in my own outness, I had forgotten how challenging it was to carve out the space to be comfortable.  His admission and subsequent reluctance to be out made me question my own resolve.  Could I have gone overseas and been as brave as I was suggesting he be?  In our conversations, I made every effort to assure him that he could be out without detriment to his career.  He and I both thought the greatest risk to him was discrimination from his US colleagues and not, as it turned out, murder.

What turns the knife for me is the media coverage that doesn’t mention gayness.  It’s not relevant to his death, no.  People are killed all the time by friends, by lovers and by strangers.  What hurts is seeing the bewilderment from people to whom he didn’t feel he could come out.  Though it’s painfully obvious to me that it wasn’t a crime motivated solely by money or class (how often does the robber/murderer spend the night before acting?) it seems like a cover-up when the family is still quoted wondering at a senseless murder for a few electronics instead of recognizing a lover’s quarrel.

It’s true that if he wasn’t out, there is no reason to mention it.  I suppose it’s not relevant to the general public either.  But if the Department knows and is deliberately leaving it out, it makes it worse.  It renders a class of people invisible and doesn’t do justice to a murder.  It makes the crime look opportunistic and contributes to fear-mongering.  It obscures the nature of the Department’s diplomats – all kinds of people from all kinds of places.

It’s not a crime to be gay.  I wish we’d stop treating it like one.

If you consult my best friend the internet (hi sweetie) it will tell you that having a brush pile in your backyard is a good thing.  While scrolling beautiful Bambi-like wildlife pictures across the screen, it will try to seduce you with thoughts of precious little bunnies, flocks of whistling bluebirds and troops of smurfy, adorable critters who pass their time baking you muffins and draping you with ribbons. 

But the internet is also manipulative and sneaky and so it also makes all sorts of well reasoned arguments about being green, composting and saving the earth already.  It’s so persuasive and sly that I look at my very own brush pile and think “If I dismember that thing, it will be like killing thousands of tiny, adorable, big-eyed ladybugs.”

I had no idea that owning a house would mean coping with environmentally friendly brush piles or, as I like to call them, Deathtraps with a Vengeful Spirit and Nefarious Intent. 

This brush pile defies my eco-conscious imagination.  It has layers upon layers of leaves and branches.  At first I was excited about the dry leaves for compost.  Then, as we labored in the hot soul sucking sun, I was excited about the dry snapping branches for firewood.  Then, after we unearthed the first christmas tree, I was certain we were housing fleets of fast-footed bunnies.  Then, after the third and fourth evergreen, I basked in the idea that there might be terrific compost underneath all those wet, mucky leaves.  Just yesterday, I was delighted to see earth below the leaves.  At least, until I sank into it

Quicksand?  A mole hole?  Suddenly, I found myself more worried about snakes and spiders and other nasty biters than I was about disrupting a happy nest of finches.  I backed away from the trench I was abruptly in and reassessed.  Not only was I standing in what had once been some sort of small dimension warren, I was looking at loads and loads of yellow, compact…something…packed with largish holes swiss cheese holes.  Mold?  Insulation foam?  Fungus?  It broke apart, but didn’t disintegrate and looked, at times disturbingly, like masses of fur and wetness.  All of a sudden, it was less snakes and spiders and more hanta virus, norovirus, and what in the name of green living is that? 

It was a head, my friends.  Possum?  Mole?  Vole?  Rat?  A nest of rats?  A nest of rat babies?  A nest of anything?  I love nature as much as the next girl but once I saw that head I put down that rake faster than Bambi’s forest went up in flames. 

So now we’re left with a few unappealing options.  Leave the pile (absolutely not.  I suppose I don’t mind the concept of a brush pile, but I want it to be my brush pile.)  Break open the pile (spilling out whatever critters lurk beneath to find a new home.)  Or call in some sort of professional brush pile remover (I can only imagine explaining to them about the quicksand and, well, the head.)  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

We’ve been counting our chickens over here.  Oh, we’ve imagined how they’ll look when they hatch, all their pretty little feathers, their precious, baby tweets.  Unfortunately, in this case the chickens are our house and that omelet you smell is all the shattered dreams.

I suspect this is somehow karmic, but there isn’t much we can do now but ride it out.  In fact, it may be already over in a good way (don’t you hear those sweet chirps?) but I think I’m still a little shell-shocked.  Sorry, right.  More karma for that.

First we had to negotiate the home inspection.  Regular stuff I’m told.  Then the bank sent out the appraiser.  And then (the savvy among you have already pictured this, haven’t you) the house appraised for billions less than the asking price.  Well not billions, obviously, but enough to strike fear into the hearts of the realtors, bank and sellers.  I’ll save you the blinding detail and drama.  So we’ve spent a few agonizing weeks getting personally acquainted with the state of the economy and in the end, it looks like we might still have this particular house. 

But we’re exhausted.  House buying is stressful – who knew it would be this hard to spend money?  If we close, it’ll be mid-March so cross your fingers!

Me: I thought 2009 was a leap year.
Shirl: It isn’t.  See?  (Points to calendar)
Me: Yeah I see, but I really thought it was.  Was 2008 a leap year?  Do you know?  Can you look?
Shirl: (Looking, impatiently) You see?  This is why you have headaches.  All you need to know is that next month doesn’t have 29 days.  But you have to take it one step further, worrying about things that don’t matter.
Me:  Right…but was it?  2008?

This is why I haven’t made any resolutions.

I can’t not keep track of every last thing.  Did you put the keys back on the hook?  No?  That’s okay, but I need to know where the keys are.  Did the garbage man plan to come today?  I’m indifferent as to whether it’s today, tomorrow or next week, I just need to know whether or not it’s today and when it will be.  Is there an extra day next month or not?  Is there a rule here about this?  What exactly is the rule?

It isn’t that I need to follow all the rules.  After all, I don’t put my own keys back half the time and I don’t mind missing the garbage run as long as I’m choosing not to put out trash.  It’s the same reason why I’d be a model prisoner.  Or just look like one.  I don’t have to do everything by the books, I just have to do everything right or know how to perfectly skirt around it so that I can minimize the effort, time it takes and the consequences.  My sort of perfection.  And I have high standards.  Sigh.

For example: I’m making a calendar for February.  It will kill me if I have to do it twice.  It will torture me if I have to wait for the answer about the extra day.  It’s bad enough that I haven’t already memorized which years are the leap years for the rest of my life.  Furthermore, it’s a terrific oversight that I don’t know exactly how long I’ll live so that I can figure out all of the leap years from now til then and never need to worry about it.  Looking it up more than once is a waste of valuable minutes that I could be using to find. out. more. information.

Now you think I’m crazy.  I think you might be right.  But this brings us to resolutions.  If I were to make a rule for myself, for example, bring my wife her slippers every night, I would never ever make a mistake.  I would rather suffer miserably than make a mistake after I’d said I would do something.  It’s a relatively inconsequential thing, slippers, but I’d work out how exactly to make sure it gets done every night with maximum efficiency and then I’d never ever neglect to do it.  If it couldn’t be done efficiently, the resolution would have to go.

Change isn’t the problem here, I’m all for it.  But change involves a time commitment.  If I bring her the slippers at a different time each night, that’s fine.  As long as it fits in the clockwork of the night.  If she wants them at 6pm each night but nothing else happens at the same time everyday, I’ll agonize over how to make it efficient and then never deviate.  She would never have to scold over late slippers, there would never be a chance.  If inconsistency is the rule, I can follow it to a tee (as long as I’ve considered all the consequences, read the fine print, considered the better alternatives and determined whether or not the stated intention is the actual intention.  Fortunately, I’m a fast thinker.)

Slippers aside (and thank goodness she doesn’t have any), you can see how this is a problems with resolutions.  Just today I thought, maybe I’ll resolve to walk up all stairs instead of ever taking an elevator.  And then I spent the next hour thinking of all the instances when that might not be possible (What if we visited the Empire States Building?  What if we had luggage at the airport?  What if I broke a leg?)  Since I couldn’t effectively resolve all the what ifs, I decided it wouldn’t be a good resolution after all.  I’m still mulling over walking up one set of stairs a day, but that has equal hurdles (How long would a “flight” be?, etc.)

As a result, I try to live well instead of making resolutions.  I probably shouldn’t eat Twinkies and I probably should bring my wife slippers (or the equivalent)  but if I do (or don’t) no one is counting and that way no one (me) has to spend time worrying about whether 2009 is a leap year.  You see?

As if we haven’t had enough animal problems this week…

I came home after work and ran upstairs to change.  I heard a slight scratching of claws on plastic and the cat came bolting out of the bathroom.  Cringing, I looked inside – no stain on the carpet, and the standing shower looked ok.  Later, I’m in the other bathroom doing laundry and I glanced over at the tub.  In the tub is the same cat, whiskers twitching, taking an enormous dump in my bathtub.  Aghast, I wonder if he was peeing in the shower earlier.

You can’t exactly yell at your cat but it’s apparent that he isn’t a fan of the litter switch.  He really isn’t a fan.

It’s the bathtub!  Bah!  But at least it wasn’t the carpet.