Sunday, October 13, 2013


I don't know what I will do next fall without my weekend football games which I've grown to love, irrationally. I used to sit quietly, tentatively, worried about injury and not thoroughly knowing the game. Fast forward four years and I spend the game jumping and clapping and screaming at the top of my lungs, I look forward to them and I don't look at my watch hoping they'll be over soon. I'm just fine never going to another baseball game, or basketball game, but I'm really gonna miss football, yet still have no regrets not allowing the tall one to play until High School.

It's an incredible thing to think back to that tiny boy who dreamed of teams and uniforms from the time he could walk. When he started soccer at four, he yelped all day about how this was going to be the best day of his life, and then spent the whole practice curled in my lap sobbing. He wanted so badly to go out there and play, but just couldn't do it, for whatever reason, for so many reasons. We went week after week, and occasionally, he'd go on the field for a minute or two, but then was back in the lap. What a difference a year makes, and he hit his stride in t-ball a year later, but took it so much more seriously than the other kids that if he didn't get a good hit, he'd pitch a fit behind the pine trees. Working on the sportsmanship, everyone has an achilles heel has been the project of our lives.

So that so many years later, to see this confident young man, strut onto the field wearing that uniform, the shoulder pads and cleats, the helmet, his little boy dream come to fruition and lead his team effortlessly, in complete control, entirely in the moment and in possession of himself, is an astounding thing to watch. He's got the moves, damn, that boy's got the moves and how many of us get to participate in our fantasies in the flesh, even if only for four high school years. He doesn't just play, he's the star and he pulls it off, time after time. In real life, he walks with the slouch of someone who got tall too quickly and has the inherent awkwardness that comes with self-consciousness and and slightly pidgeoned toes, but when he's on that field, or any other, he stands tall, he's graceful, he's just gorgeous to watch, gorgeous. He walks up and down the sidelines, whispering in ears, patting helmet heads, he's the conductor and there's nowhere else he'd rather be and I think of that little, little boy who dreamt of this moment night after night, in one fantasy after another and how many dreams come true? Throw on the image of him completing pass after pass to his childhood friend, a boy I adore and who knew football could make a mama cry. Who knew football, horrible, violent football, the antithesis of all my values could be so beautiful. I'm so nostalgic about this senior year, the end of so many things, the end of an era, but so proud, so damned proud and enjoying it so much, because this ending will merge with a grand new beginning. Turn the page and everyone starts a new chapter.

The little one is really enjoying the theater class I forced him into and he's becoming a performance art piece in progress. He likes to employ a russian accent and spout non-sequiturs when other kids talk to him at school, "sandvitch, sandvitch." What a crack-up, he cares not a whit if people think he's from mars, in fact, he takes it as a fine achievement and compliment. Beautiful. He's on a lego stop-motion movie making binge and I love when I can see his little wheels spinning as he runs upstairs to film and downstairs to edit. He just turned down an ice cream, because when he's on a tear, he's consumed. It's a beautiful thing to be consumed by a project. He's so much happier when he's a mission and it's been a while.

I completely forgot to share my recent experience with jellyfish. I've always been scared of them, didn't know that they don't all sting, but really just thought they were gross. When I went diving off of Jamestown the water was full of them, some as small as a nickel and some considerably larger. I had gloves on and my teacher told me they didn't sting, so I started scooping them up and I thought they'd be like goo dripping off of my hand, but not at all. They look all flimsy and shapeless in the water, but when you pick them up, they make a perfectly round disc in your hand and are rather solid. A hand-sized one is like a tennis ball you've flattened down to about 1/2" thick. Clear and with pink strands in the middle. It feels exactly like a sac of silicone, a silicone breast implant, I kid you not. It's a whole ocean full of silicone implants!

And now it's October, breast-cancer awareness month, the commercial scam of the century. My son's watching his beloved Green Bay Packers on T.V. and the players are all decked out in pink. Pink socks, towels, wristbands, accessories, the goal posts are wrapped in pink, but does any of that translate into money for research? For a cure? I would suggest that women are more aware of breast cancer than of heart disease and heart disease is more likely to kill them. This obsession with breast and breast health is so disturbing and I find it very anti-woman, as in whole woman. As in, no our breasts are not that much more important than the rest of our body parts. No one cares about our colon's because no one is enjoying our colons. I get it, breasts are lovely, I miss mine immensely, but this pink nonesense is out of control and so contrived, so meaningless, shouldn't we want a cure for all cancer? Breast cancer doesn't suck anymore than any other kind of cancer, it all sucks. This pink thing is commercial and it's making money for most everyone other than people dying of disease, which is not one singular disease at all, but comes in many flavors. Everyone gets to feel good except the people who actually have the disease, and certainly any less "popular" cancer. Pink might make survivors feel good, but I'm more concerned with the women who are not going to survive because so much money raised for the "cure" goes to parties and feel-good celebrations. KFC and any other processed food packaged in pink isn't any healthier than when it's not, and these products are a big part of the problem, so as Breast Cancer Action says, "think before you pink". And if you must, go fondle a jellyfish : }

The pink makes me uncomfortable, it encourages people to identify with their cancer. I don't want to be "a breast cancer survivor" decked out in pink ribbons, I just want to be alive. I want to celebrate being alive with everyone else who's had a close encounter with anything. I don't like this hierarchy of cancers, of diseases, and I don't even like breast cancer being viewed as a singular disease, it's too simplistic. As I've learned, breast cancer is quite complex, there are many different kinds of it, some are lethal, some are not, some need a lot of treatment, some not so much, some have more in common with other cancers than with other breast cancers. Let's just fight cancer. Let's stop having parties and glorifying it and making it pretty and fun, let's fund a cure. And let's stop making those struggling with other types of cancer or diseases feel like second class citizens.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How do you spell sofa?

I had an appointment with an ophthalmologist today, chemo can cause trouble with your eyes, and while there is no history of cancer in my family, there is history of certain eyeball conditions. I have undergone countless medical procedures, and am very good at remaining calm and detached, but eyeballs and the examination thereof, give me the deluxe hee-bee-gee-bees {x10}. I can't watch anyone put in contact lenses, my eyes water if someone else has red eyes and the doctor's plastic eyeball model made me queasy. But nothing was scarier than the waiting room before my appointment.

The waiting room was crowded with a disproportionate number of morbidly obese, I don't mean overweight, I mean seriously, obese, very unhealthy individuals. After watching Michelle Bachman on the news ranting about Obamacare killing innocent babies and their little old nana's, I've become so disgusted with the state of things that I really can't stand it. I'm trying to be the apathetic individual that is at the root of so many problems, but sometimes, it's a matter of self-preservation, It's too insane, too depressing, I can't believe how low our national discourse has gone, and I thought I could dwell in my little blue state bubble for a bit. A woman across the room asked loudly "how do you spell sofa?", she repeated it a few times and her friend looked at her quizzically. I thought maybe she was doing a crossword puzzle and an answer was "sofa",admittedly, pretty shocked she needed help spelling it. Then she said to her friend "you know, sofa, the stuff they put in antibiotics, I'm allergic to," her friend replied "oh suffa, that's S U F A." Oh sulphur, you crazy chemical you, which I've learned since, has two acceptable spellings, Sulphur and Sulfur, both of which alas, have an "r" at the end. If you don't want to say the R, that's fine by me, but you just can't deny it's existence.

Right then, the ever-present wall mounted t.v. cut to news, of course of the government shutdown. The woman next to me hollered to the whole room, our small, intimate waiting room, that if we had to have Obamacare, the Congress should have to have it too. Maybe I should have kept quiet, but I aired on the side of polite political discourse, national conversation, and I explained, after someone else agreed with her, that the Affordable Care Act wasn't something you had to have, it was something that would be there for those who chose to utilize it. Congresspeople have employer arranged health insurance, so they don't need the assistance of the ACA, but that many people don't have employer coverage. I mentioned the self-employed, people who work for small businesses, people who work part-time, that the ACA allowed them access to an array of different plans, subsidized according to income, from which they could not be excluded for preexisting conditions, women would be charged the same as men, folks couldn't be dropped if they got sick, all good things that are not available to millions of people currently. And yes, people would be required to purchase at least minimal coverage, just as the government makes us buy auto insurance in case we damage someone's car or hurt someone, minimal coverage would mean that the rates of the paying, wouldn't skyrocket to pay for the care of the uninsured.

The woman insisted to me that despite having had cancer and diabetes and myriad other health issues she'd never been denied insurance, never, ever, and her rates were what she considered affordable and that Obamacare had already ruined her insurance. She was now being denied a lifesaving medication she needs every day because of Obamacare. I mentioned that the law only went into effect yesterday and didn't affect anyones current coverage, but that didn't convince her. Her insurance was great and she didn't need the government interfering with, you know it, you know it's coming, her Medicare.

And it went downhill from there. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Phew, I'm certified. Certifiably certified scuba diver and I get an official card in the mail and everything, so that if I'm hit by a car and someone goes through my wallet at the hospital, they can be duly impressed. Warmest day in weeks, I've been watching the weather forecast go up 1ยบ per day for the last week, the gods were on my side, but Poseidon was a smidge testy.

Slightly rough day today, beginner scuba divers are not exactly graceful, not nearly at all. Today, we climbed down a rocky slope wearing our 6,052 lbs. of gear to get to the water, and if that wasn't harrowing enough, you have to walk into the water on wet, slippery rocks. My relief at getting to the water alive evaporated instantly as my foot touched the first slippery stone and it got pretty ugly from there, although, no doubt had there been a hidden camera, I'd be providing hilarity to someone right now. I got in up to about my knees and lost my balance and was tilting back and forth on a tightrope trying not to land in the net, I thought I had it, I had it... I never really had it and wound up on my back in shallow water on top of my tank. A turtle stuck on it's back fruitlessly waving it's stubby little arms and legs back and forth. Had I been alone, I would have been like that for the rest of my considerably shorter life, but my teacher, in considerably better shape than I, with much effort, helped me up onto me knees and for that moment, I really wasn't sure if I'd be able to get to my feet. Damn, this is exercise and I really need to get back to the Y.

When we finally got to deeper water, he swam down to plant our diver's flag and I laid on my back, warm sun on my face, catching my breath, calming down and it was a few minutes of bliss, pure perfect heaven. We had a great dive, staying down for about 35 minutes, but then we had to come up and do some test skills. I did everything fine, but I was kind of a mess. My mask was loose the first dive, so I broke the first rule and took it off to tighten it. I overt-tightened it and couldn't get it loosened up without help and diver girls want to be independent. Taking it off, caused it to fog up the rest of the time, so I descended either too fast or too slow because I couldn't see a thing, and we're talking pretty low visibility to begin with. I did far too much thrashing about, exhausting myself and swallowing mouthfuls of skanky salt water.

Exhausted after all that struggling in the water I was a little scared for the first time about not getting back to shore and well, I didn't really want to embarrass myself further. I knew I was in really safe hands, but I really, really didn't want to need more help. I already can't get my tank and vest on by myself, I hated needing help with something as dumb as my mask. The currents get stronger as the day goes on, so swimming back is definitely harder than swimming out and the same rocks are involved both ways. We saw a big flounder. next time I pretend to be camouflaged, I'm going to be a flounder.

My instructor is a peach. He's a really good teacher and has made me feel so comfortable. Usually the classes are twice a week for four weeks, but with my parenting responsibilities, there's no way I could get out two nights a week once or twice, let alone four times, so this guy, C.P, has enabled me to do something that has become so important to me on so many levels that I can't quantify my gratitude. He has two kids, High School Senior and one in college and he talks about his wife with the most natural and lovely sense of commitment and partnership, respect and affection. I can't think of anything better in the world than to feel that way about someone, or to have someone not only feel that way about me, but to be able to express it with ease to a near stranger. Of course with my constant issue with sharing too much and chattering too much, I guess if I spend a whole car ride with someone, they're unlikely to remain a stranger. I've always noticed people talking about their partners this way, and was simultaneously aware of the lack of it in my relationship. It was an intangible longing at first, just another deficit that made me sad, but I identified it some years ago and so always notice when people talk of their loved ones with such genuine affection and bonds either with or without them present, it's powerful either way. I know the people doing it take it for granted, but those of us who are never spoken of that way, notice it and personally, I always find it very moving.

Anyway, I really like this guy, and duh, not that way {get out of the gutter}, just did the wife thing... just a great guy and a great teacher and I hope we'll get to dive together again, which really, I'm sure we will. His current class is gonna do their open water dives at the end of the month and I'm going to tag along for one of the days. Now that I'm done with all the testing, I can just dive, none of this up and down, up and down nonsense, the pressure's off {o.k., I never felt any pressure} but the getting from point A to point B issue remains -- it's nice to just fall out of a boat like in Mexico. Grateful for this man's patience and knowledge and cheerleading. We met an older man in the parking lot who'd just emerged from the water and his wife was waiting there with her cup of coffee, they were adorable! She offered us food and it turns out that her husband is a post-cancer scuba diver. He was given two years to live and here he is 15 years later and living the life. I'm going to live the life.

I want my own wetsuit, I want my own wetsuit bad, my only impediment to living the life is I'm broker than I've ever been in my life. I want a black wetsuit with pink accessories. Pink weight belt, already have the pink flippers, and I'm getting a dive knife someday. They strap around your lower leg. I'll never use it, I'm scared of knives and for good reason, I know damned well I'd cut my own leg open with it, but I want a dive knife so I can feel like a bad ass scuba diver. You know, bond girl fantasy, and I'm at that stage in life where my fantasy life is pretty important. I have a great jellyfish story, but I'm too tired and I'm going to have to wrench myself out of this porch chair on this beautiful, gorgeous, fabulous day and go take a shower, cause not only am I exhausted, I stink.