Monday, September 26, 2011

Goodnight Irene

More of my videos here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mucho Mocho

More of my videos here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mastectomy and Beyond

Some wisdom in here (I hope) about apologizing, chocolate in the evening, and harboring refugees. More of my videos here.

I spent some time on the phone recently talking to a friend of a friend about her upcoming mastectomy. She was struggling with whether or not to have reconstruction. I was struggling to be a supportive listener rather than an evangelist for my one-boob life. But the truth is, if you're faced with this horrendous choice, I highly recommend skipping the reconstruction.

Yes, I am often hyper-vigilant to the reactions of strangers, and yes, sometimes it gets to be too much and I have to cry it out before I can resume my carefree unselfconscious day. And, to be fair, my life does not include board meetings or students or clients I meet with face-to-face, not right now anyway. And I have a supportive husband who thinks a missing breast does not impede my sexiness.

But I am so glad there is no foreign thing under my skin. I am pleased that I haven't gotten around to purchasing a prosthetic or any special bras to hold one. I am surprised and also pleased that there are moments where I find myself, like a tear-streaked child with a big bandage on a wounded knee, feeling proud of my scar. I'm proud of my ability to keep living and loving as fiercely as ever, that I can be an example that cancer and mastectomy and other life disasters don't take away the ability to find humor and pleasure in life. And I am relieved to look back over this paragraph recalling that, at the outset, I did not know it would be this way.

Yesterday while out walking Millie, I ran into a man I know who went through a grueling chemotherapy for throat cancer three years ago, only to begin competing in the arguably equally grueling sport of cyclocross during his subsequent radiation. During my own chemo, I wanted to speak to him, to be reassured that I would one day feel alive again, but I was too tired and too shy to make it happen. Yesterday he told me he had heard I wanted to talk with him and had dropped by my house one day during that period, but apparently no one was home. I was touched to hear this, to be reminded that we don't always know all the good moves people are making in our direction.

"I see they took your breast," he said to me yesterday, or something close to that. It's rare for someone to initiate a frank and direct conversation with me about my mastectomy outside of a doctor's office or a counseling session, especially someone of the male persuasion, so this caught me off guard, though in a good, bracing way, like a gust of November wind after hours in front of the fire. I shrugged and smiled and so did he. "Whaddaya gonna do?" I said, and we both laughed. When we said goodbye he hugged me, hard, without hesitation. And I walked away smiling.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Vlogging at NPR

To my surprise and delight, my new "This I Believe" essay was picked up by WRNI in Rhode Island. I had to trim 50 words, which was a challenge, but in a good way. They will broadcast it in November and I'll give you the link to listen online as soon as I have it.
More of my videos here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


More of my videos here.

One Big Giant Pumpkin

I came across a Chinese Proverb the other day that got me thinking.

"One cannot manage too many affairs: like pumpkins in the water, one pops up while you try to hold down the other."

I have too many pumpkins right now.

I'm thinking it's time to bring both my blogs (there's an art vlog too, if you didn't know), my vlog (the youtube videos that have taken over this blog lately), and the rest of my professional life (including my woefully out-of-date portfolio website) under the same roof. Like one big giant pumpkin.

What do you think?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tamoxification and Crazy Hair

Second to the latest vlog.
The latest vlog. More of my videos here.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Opportunity in Disguise

Before the storm I made a batch of hummus and a big coleslaw, lightly dressed with cider vinegar, agave, salt, and pepper. The salt draws the moisture out of the vegetables which soften and take on the flavor of the dressing, more so the second day, even more the third. And because cabbage and carrots keep so well, it seemed far more appropriate to fall back on this hearty salad than some wilting soggy lettuce or spinach thing if we didn't have refrigeration to keep things crisp.
Sorry I've been incognito lately. I could blame it on Irene, the hurricane/tropical storm that had us scurrying around filling bathtubs and digging out candles. Irene ripped leaves and limbs and in many cases, entire trees from the ground, draping them over power lines all over our neighborhood. Many around us were without electricity for over a week and my stepson's first day of school was delayed for almost as long. But at our house we only lost power for three hours sunny Monday afternoon. And I was out of the house at the time, walking the dog and running errands.

I could blame it on distraction. The storm brought my father and his girlfriend to our door from New York, refugees from lower Manhattan's mandatory evacuation. We had a pleasant overnight visit. And my neighbor, S~ came by a few days later with the contents of her refrigerator and chest freezer - including a hundred pounds of frozen berries and sliced peaches she had harvested and cleaned and bagged herself over the course of the summer, which I helped her load into our old fridge in the basement.

I could blame it on my computer crash - which happened during the last-minute flurry of filling water bottles and tackling Laundry Mountain last Saturday - no time to troubleshoot. But actually I was glad. I was prepared for the possibility of being without my computer for a few days if we lost power. Now it was guaranteed.

The truth is, I needed a break - a break from my desk, a break from my ten million computer-driven projects and addictions - and when the opportunity for one came along, I grabbed it.

Now that the storm has passed, my computer is restored, my laundry is folded and put away, and my friend's produce and mayonnaise are back in her own care, I'm feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to proceed.

Okay, life, bring it on!