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Showing posts from October, 2007


So, I was recently tagged by Sherry, whose blog abreast in the world posts the latest research and news in breast cancer, along with deep observations, bold opinions and absolutely gorgeous graphics. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express, Sherry! (Being a newbie, I’m not sure if I’m doing this right, but I think I am supposed to supply six factoids about myself then tag someone else…)

1. Disclosure: Anything funny in this blog originated from my friend Sam. It’s a good thing I had breast cancer and she didn't because if she decides to write a blog, she’ll have to find another community of writers and readers--and that means my witticisms and wry observations will remain “my own.”

2. I got caught shoplifting when I was 9. I had stuffed a bottle of bubbles and a box of Red Hots in the front of my shorts (stealthy, I am not). The manager of the Ben Franklin Five and Dime, a very big woman in a sleeveless summer dress, asked me what I had taken. “Nothing” not being an optio…

I Don't Want to Look Cute

“You look adorable,” said my friend Judie, when I tried on a wig that reminded me of Mia Farrow’s haircut in Rosemary’s Baby. The woman who’d just put the wig liner and wig on my head nodded in agreement. Clearly, neither she, nor Judie, was lucid. Mia looked adorable in that haircut because she weighed 98 pounds and looked like a sexy pixie with her cute freckles and startling bone structure. Me? 145 pounds. A smattering of age spots. Woodland creature cheeks.

It was June 2006, and I knew I was going to lose my hair in mid-August after getting the first of six Adriamyacin/Cytoxan chemo-tinis, straight up. To get used to having less hair, I did what a lot of pre-chemo women do: I cut my hair in increments. When I went to the Wig Palace with Judie, I had recently cut my long hair into a smart little shoulder-length bob. It was kind of fun and swingy, but I lived in mortal fear of humidity or rain, either of which transformed my angular bob into a fuzzy pyramid.

“I don’t want to look cute…

NorCal Rednecks

To put myself through college, I waited tables at Longhorn Steaks in Marietta, Georgia. It had a jukebox full of Hank Williams Jr. and Willie Nelson records; a vintage, white Frigidaire full of long-necked Budweisers and Lone Stars; and red vinyl booths full of 10-percent-tipping rednecks.

When I moved to San Francisco, I noticed it, too, was full of icons: politically correct boomers, bargain taquerias, overpriced real estate, high-test coffee, intellectuals, aging hippies, and a conspicuous absence of rednecks.

And while it's been 20 years since I've lived in the South, I still can ID a redneck in 20 seconds flat. So I was certain--absolutely--that the guys in the pick-up next to me at the Bank of America last summer were beer-guzzlin', chick-hatin', finger-lickin'...rednecks.

I had just had chemo #2 and was working at home instead of the office. I took a break to go get a sandwich at the deli and to deposit a check at the bank. It was 120 degrees in my un-…

Texas Hold 'Em

Here’s what I remember from those first post-mastectomy moments: Waking up to see my primary care physician, Dr. J, in the recovery room (even though there was no medical reason for him to be there). Being comforted by my family and friends. Watching my Mom futz with the daisies and delphiniums. Sipping 7-Up. Smiling, even though the pink-flowered elastic tube top they had put on me felt like it was lined with burlap and foxtails. Testing the efficiency of my morphine PCA drip. Feeling gratitude. Worrying what my hair looked like. Drifting in and out of sleep.

I also clearly remember this:

My “suite” had the usual hospital stuff, but one half of it had the look and feel of the Brady’ Bunch’s den. It had a low-slung sofa, a curvy coffee table, an entertainment center and TV, and a big round table with chairs, over which hung a Gunsmoke--looking light fixture.

After sleeping a bit, I woke to the sound of voices, so I turned in their direction. Surrounding the big round table were my ex, …

Totally Mod

Like most couples, Ocho and I recycle arguments. In fact, we've totally flattened the cans on a few topics. So I was delighted when we recently got into it about something brand new.

Ocho was at his house in his bed watching a movie on his Macbook. I was at my house making an Excel spreadsheet of my expenses. I called Ocho, looking for a distraction. "Who's in the movie?" I asked. "It's the guy who was in The Mod Squad," he said. "He also was in The Matrix."

"Dude," I said. "You are so not the man when it comes to '70s pop culture. Lawrence Fishburne was in The Matrix, but it was a totally different guy in The Mod Squad."

"Same guy," Ocho insisted.

With that challenge, I opened another browser window and googled a photo of Lawrence Fishburne. Then I googled The Mod Squad. This is one of the photos I found:

All of a sudden, it didn't matter whether the actor in Ocho's movie was Lawrence Fishburne or Clarenc…


There’s a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn called Wherever You Go, There You Are. It’s all about mindfulness, being in the moment, focusing.

The idea is that if you focus completely on whatever it is you’re doing—chopping wood, carrying water, washing dishes, folding clothes, listening to someone squeegee the very last eighth of a teaspoon of yogurt out of their little plastic Yoplait container—you will become clearer, calmer, centered.

Ocho and I recently spent a Saturday at Spirit Rock meditation center in Woodacre. It offers the uncentered masses classes with names like “Transforming Our Rage Inheritance,” “Whole Body Breathing,” and “Essential Dharma.” I signed us up for something a bit more suburban-sounding: “The Art of Acceptance.” I figured there was plenty I needed to accept.

The Art of Acceptance involved free green tea, hours of meditation and a 40-minute talk on the Art of Acceptance. During the first of what easily were hour-long sitting meditations, I would hyper-focus on Ocho’s bre…

Cancer Hat

It was the hottest summer on record, and I was at Longs with the kids buying back-to-school supplies. While looking for thin black Sharpie markers, 1½ inch sturdy binders and other insanely specific items, I started to schvitz in my purple/black polar fleece ski hat.

I wore that ski hat because I was bald and because it was the only hat that I’d ever found that didn’t emphasize the fact that I have a very small head and very broad shoulders. I also have very muscular calves, for the record, which annoys my brother no end.

“Each family is given 100 percent of a certain trait or quality,” he hypothesizes, “and the members have to divvy up that percentage. I got the math and the fantasy football skills; you got the English and the calves.”

And the small head. Which wants to drift from the main point of this story…

Last August, a few weeks after I’d lost my hair, I found the ski hat in the back of my closet. I’d gotten it in Tahoe in 1995, during an impromptu weekend trip to the snow with …