the hyphens that define my life

Be well my friend September 9, 2014

At the northwest corner, where the road met the state route, stood a four bedroom, two bathroom bluish-grayish farmhouse and a big, old white barn. In the house lived a family, the parents with a son, the oldest, and two daughters.  The youngest daughter was a mischievous child with brown hair, brown eyes and a strong willed spirit that took her on many adventures  and got her into plenty of trouble.

The summers of her elementary school years were spent playing jump rope, football with the few neighborhood boys and girls, and playing school (as nutty as that sounds, so many girls spend their summers playing school, when they couldn’t wait for the school year to end).  The kids drank Kool-Aid by the gallon and ate popsicles wear cut-offs while swinging on either the tire swing or rope swing that hung from the Black Walnut and Northern Catalpa trees in the neighbor’s yard.

When life was moving by too slowly, the girl and her friends would smash large Catalpa worms, spraying green caterpillar goo on each other.  Or, without permission, the kids would swim in the ponds located in the quarry behind the neighborhood, taking care to pull the leaches off of one another after a quick dip in the cool water.  Or, if trapped in the house, reading her older sister’s diary was always thrilling. The kids felt like they owned the world, that is, until the older siblings got involved.

The girl’s brother once turned the farm rooster loose in the yard.  He chased the rooster and the rooster, wings spread, standing tall, chased the girl and her friend.  The girl and her friend ended up cowering on top of the picnic table as her brother, close to ten years older, kept the rooster near as he mimicked an old Ritz Cracker commercial starring Andy Griffith (of the Andy Griffith Show, you know, with Don Knotts and Opie and Aunt Bee). In the commercial, Andy Griffith said, “Everything tastes better on a Ritz Cracker.”  In real life, the crazed brother and that frightening rooster ran around the table chanting in a wicked witch voice “You girls would taste GREAT on a burnt Ritz Cracker.”  The girl and her friend paid back the brother when he was stuck babysitting during a sleepover.  The girls were rummaging through the bathroom looking for makeup to try on and accidently broke the mercurial thermometer.  The brother was convinced he was going to die from mercury poisoning.

The girl grew into a teenager, into a woman, a wife, a mom and a grandmother.  The girl and her friend separated near the end of their elementary years as the friend moved away. By the Power of Facebook, the friends reunited in the past few years.

The girl is my oldest friend. The above story was conjured up from pasted together fragments of my memory and may or may not be true.  What is sadly true is that I learned yesterday that my friend has breast cancer.  She spent today being tested to see if the cancer had metastasized anywhere else in her body.  Thoughts of her filled my mind today.  Be well my friend.


Boobies July 18, 2013

Conversations with my 7 year old, Andre, take you down random paths you had no plans travelling.  Today’s random topic while soothing him from cracking himself in the head with the ball of a Kendama, focused on not understanding why boys and girls start out the same, with flat chests (pronounced chest-is), then girls get boobies.  How does that happen?  Easy enough, I can answer that one, puberty.  He didn’t understand.  Rather than go into the medical definition of puberty, I threw a curve ball of my own.  “Did you know that there are fish that are first boys and then become girls?”  “What?!?”  he shreiked.  “True story”.  “That’s just freaky” he proclaimed before running off to torture his brothers.

Probably not my finest maternal hour but I succeeded in two things: 1) he was distracted enough not to fret over bonking his head and 2) be careful who you drag with you down a strange path, they just might surprise you.

You’ve read this far, now you’re being dragged down a strange path.  Welcome.

I recently read Josh Kilmer-Purcell’s memoir, I’m Not Myself These Days.  This is an adventure filled journey through Manhattan as a transvestite by night and advertising director by day.  Don’t judge the book by it’s cute goldfish cover.  I was surprised, I had no idea what I was getting into when I bought this book at a yard sale.  I loved the book and I can’t wait to read Kilmer-Purcell’s two other novels.

In costume as Aqua, his transvestite persona, Josh had costumes designed to accommodate plastic globes with water and goldfish that he wore as boobs. Genius and awesome.  The one photo of Aqua in the book is impressive.  Aqua retired and Josh became a successful writer, happily ever after.

Earlier this year, I read an article about a woman, a triathlete, that, after being diagnosed with breast cancer and having a double mastectomy, decided not to have reconstructive surgery.  In the magazine, she was photographed, topless, showing her scars.  How brave.  I have since seen other photos where cancer survivors have opted for tattoos over their scars instead of reconstructive surgery.  tattoos covering scars totally make sense to me (see earlier post where tattoos boggle my mind).  After reading the article (forgive me for not remembering which magazine), I told Vince that I would not opt for reconstructive surgery either.  He raised his bushy eyebrows  but didn’t comment beyond, “ok”, which sounded more like ooooooooh kayyyyyyyy.  He’s learned long ago to just roll with whatever I throw at him.

I’m certain this post is going to ruffle some feathers. Reconstructive surgery is a personal choice.  I respect your decision to reconstruct, to go bigger or to downsize, reconstruction just isn’t for me.  I have not been diagnosed with breast cancer so I’m not subject to making that decision and hopefully will never be in that position.  I am confident I would stick with not opting for reconstructive surgery based on my own cancer history and having a third of my colon removed (right hemicolectomy) without reconstructive surgery.  As a woman, I’m not defined by my colon, my boobs, or by the length of my hair for that matter, but by how I live my life.

Remember it is ok to swim upstream, to be you, to consider all options and do what’s best for you.  Goldfish could be the way to go.