When I was in kindergarten, my grandpa would pick me up from school every Wednesday to spend the afternoon with me. He would take me miniature golfing, or sometimes to go on the trampolines. He’d take me out to lunch, usually to get a hamburger. I remember those days– I remember how happy I felt to be with him. I remember how much fun I had riding around town with him.
I remember how special he made me feel.
My grandpa was extremely proud of me. He thought I was the most beautiful, talented little girl and he made sure that everyone in his life knew how wonderful he thought I was.
When I lost my grandpa, I lost the one person who truly loved me for who I was, unconditionally, no matter how badly I had behaved or failed him. He never got angry with me or said unkind words to me. He was protective of me, he was proud of me, he genuinely loved to spend time with me.
His departure from this world has left a deep void in my soul.
There’s a story I love to tell my kids about my Grandpa that I want to share with you.
It was a cold, rainy day. I was on restriction– for what? I can’t remember. All of the neighborhood kids were outside playing in the rain in our driveway. I was sitting by the window, looking outside at everyone having a good time. I was upset that I was missing out on the fun. As I was watching and dying a little on the inside, I saw my grandpa’s car pull up.
I made my face just a little bit sadder as he walked up the driveway, knowing he’d see me and wonder why I was sad.
When he walked in the door, he immediately asked me why I was sitting inside instead of playing with the kids outside.
“I’m on restriction!” I whined, tears welling up in my eyes. “I’m not allowed to go outside.”
My grandpa looked at me and said “Oh, fer crying out loud. Get out there and play!”
I was tempted, but there was no way I was going to disobey my parents. I would get SO BUSTED the minute my grandpa left if I tried that.
He could see the fear in my eyes.
“Just go! Don’t worry about your parents, I’ll take care of them!”
That was all the reassurance I needed.
I wiped the tears from my eyes, skipped outside and joined the kids.
As a parent, this story makes me cringe a little. I would be angry if my parents undermined my parental authority in that manner.
But the child in me looks back on that and remembers a man who just wanted me to be happy. A man who was willing to stand up, speak up for me.
He continued to be that person for me when I needed him most– my teenage years.
When my parents got caught up on a cult-like, legalistic view of Christianity, my grandpa (and grandma) tried to speak up on my behalf– even covering for me when I wanted to go on dates with my future husband. (No, I was not allowed to be alone with MY FUTURE HUSBAND. But that’s another story for another day.)
I don’t know if I would have survived those years without having him (and my grandma) in my corner.
Two years later, I still think about him every day. Some days, I feel guilty. Guilty that I didn’t spend enough time with him. Other days, I’ll feel pure joy when I think back to something he said, or look at a picture of him with my children.
The sadness and ache I felt in my soul when he passed has slowly been replaced with the warmth and the love he left behind in his words- both written and spoken.
I’m grateful for the love he left behind that I can and will carry with me always.
When I came home from the gym tonight, I poured myself a glass of water and sat down to buy some music for my iTouch. The TV was paused– Dancing With the Stars. (I have the timer set on the DVR.) My husband walks into the room, sits down on the couch and goes “hey, your shows on. Are you gonna watch it or what?” I was all “I’m busy. I’ll watch it later.” He became agitated.
He wanted to watch it.
Here’s the thing, you guys.
My husband loves Dancing With the Stars. ALL CAPS LOVES IT.
When he watches it, he gets totally into it.
Like, he claps and cheers. He points at the TV and says things like “that was awesome, he had GREAT hip action!” If someone messes up, he’ll cover his eyes, throw his head back and say things like “OH NO! I’m so embarrassed for her!”
If he thinks someone danced a good dance but they get low scores, he’ll get upset with the judges. “A FIVE?!! You’ve got to be KIDDING ME! His footwork was FLAWLESS!”
He literally never stops talking during the show– spouting off opinions, criticism, words of encouragement, helpful tips for a better performance next time. NOT EVEN MAKING THIS UP. I try to be supportive– I think it’s awesome that he loves to watch people dance and isn’t afraid to express that love so openly. But YOU GUYS. The talking! The clapping! The gasping! FOR THE LOVE OF THE PASODOBLE, I’M TRYING TO HEAR WHAT BRUNO HAS TO SAY.
So, I walk away, put on my headphones and enjoy his Child Like Excitement from across the room. It’s just better for our marriage that way.
Today I had the stitches removed from my leg.
I didn’t mention anything about it. Mostly because I was nervous and I felt stupid for being nervous about having stitches removed. People get stitches removed all of the time and never in my life have I heard any kind of “stitch removal horror story.”
But I am kind of a wimp when it comes to anything that involves my skin and sharp objects. You know, things like stitch removal.
While I was in the waiting room, I took out my phone and turned to Twitter for comfort and reassurance. I tweeted something like “trying to pretend like I’m not scared of having my stitches taken out. Will it hurt? I need to know.”
The replies started pouring in. Mostly, people said things like “no pain, just tugging, maybe pinching. But definitely tugging.”
I’m not sure why, but the thought of feeling “tugging” made me feel weak in the vagina. But I was grateful that people had taken time to give me an idea of what to expect.
I arrived in the room, dropped my pants and placed a sheet on my lap. I informed the nurse that I “have a high tolerance for pain” but was “scared of tugging.”
She was like “Um, okaaayy. Thanks for sharing.”
Then, she removed the surgical strips, got a pair of tweezers and pulled the stitches out in like 2 seconds flat.
No tugging. No pinching. No pain.
(Note to self: You gave birth without epidurals. You need to stop being a rhymes with wussy about stupid things, like stitches.)
So, the lump is gone, the stitches are gone and most importantly, the worry is gone.
No more sleepless nights, wondering “what if?” It was a lipoma. (Just as the surgeon suspected.)
Well, I feel kind of stupid.
The procedure I was so nervous about turned out to be one of the easiest medical procedures I’ve ever had done.
I was most nervous about “the unknown” and “the needle that was going to be shoved into my thigh” and “the cutting into my leg” and “the stitches.” I mean, I understand that minor surgery to remove a lump isn’t that big of a deal, but I had no idea how deep they were going to have to cut or how badly the needle was going to hurt or how much pain I’d be in after it was all over.
I arrived to my appointment on time so they took me right in. The nurse asked me how I was feeling. I told her I was just a “little nervous.” She smiled and assured me it wasn’t a big deal. I thought I was doing a good job of hiding just how nervous I truly was. But my blood pressure gave me away.
On Tuesday, my blood pressure was 117/72. Yesterday, while starting at the table they were going to cut my leg open on, my blood pressure was 152/91. And when the nurse took it a second time (after I had taken a few deep breaths) it was even higher.
Needles are stressful!
She walked me into the cold, sterile room. First thing I noticed was the music. I asked her if I could put on my headphones and listen to my own music.
“We can put your ipod in the dock!”
“Oh, but my music has some not so nice language.” I replied.
“Oh, please! We’re young, we can handle it!”
She told me to take my pants off (but leave my panties on.) and lay down on the table.
“The doctor will be in shortly, Just try to relax, it’s going to be fine!”
The doctor walked in as In the Ayer was playing. She introduced herself and then proceeded to throw her hands in the air (and wave them from side to side.) That instantly made me feel so much better about everything. We laughed and then she asked me to show her the lump I was concerned about.
She felt it and kind of roller her eyes. “It’s so small.” She said. She felt it a bit more and then she said some other things that made me feel kind of dumb for having it removed, like, it wasn’t a big deal and “who is your doctor so I can yell at him for sending you here?”
“It’s up to you if you want me to take it out. I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about, but the fact is we can’t be 100% sure without taking it out, so it’s up to you.”
I thought for a minute.
And another minute.
“Maybe I shouldn’t do it.” I said.
And I almost got up and walked out. Because DID NOT WANT NEEDLE IN LEG.
But then, I thought about how long that stupid lump has bothered me and how many times I’ve wondered “what if?” And how many times a day I touch it and wonder if it’s gotten bigger or harder (TWSS) and how much better my life would be if I got rid of it and knew with 100% certainty that it was just a hard lump of fat and not cancer.
“Go ahead and take it out. If only for peace of mind. Let’s just do it!”
Next thing I know, the doctor has a needle in her hand, ready to shove it in my thigh.
“This is going to be the worst part, I promise.” She says.
The nurse holds my hand, I take a deep breath. I feel the needle touch my skin and brace myself for THE HORRIBLE, AWFUL PAIN.
I mean, I could feel the needle, but barely. And it didn’t hurt at all. Not even a little bit.
I exhale and say “that’s it? You’re done?”
All that worrying for nothing, I thought to myself.
November Rain by Guns N Roses comes on just as she’s about to make the incision.
I feel pressure, a little tugging and pulling. The doctor sings along with Axl as I lay there, calmly and peacefully.
Before the song is over she informs me that the lump is out and she’s ready to stitch me up.
She stitches me up to Fix You by Cold Play. I close my eyes, feeling thankful that the stupid lump that has caused me so much worry for so many years was no longer inside of my body.It was now floating around in a plastic cup, ready for to be sent out for testing.
The nurse helps me up from the table. I get up, walk over grab my purse and put on my sandals. I thank the doctor and the nurses for being so wonderful and I head to the door.
“Oh, sweetie, don’t forget your pants.” She says.
“Oh Yeah! MY PANTS!” I FORGOT ABOUT MY PANTS!” I say. I put on my pants while everyone in the room, including myself, laughs hysterically.
I say “thank you” and “good bye” one more time and walk out of the room, with my pants on.
In about 7 days I’ll finally know.
I’m hopeful it will be good news.
I have an appointment at 3:30 this afternoon to have the lump on my leg removed and biopsied.
Here’s the thing– I’m scared.
Not scared of what the results will be because I am purposely allowing myself to only be afraid of one thing at a time and right now that one thing is fear of the actual procedure.
Now, I know that in the grand scheme of medical procedures having a lump taken out of my leg is probably not that big of a deal. But, the thing is, I’m scared of any medical procedure that involves “needles” and “cutting” and “sewing back together.”
I’m also scared of the unknown. Like, are they going to numb me locally? Or will I have an IV? How deep are they going to cut? And how much are they going to take? And how big is the scar going to be? How much are the stitches going to hurt? Also? What if I have to pee halfway through the procedure? ARE THEY GOING TO LET ME GET UP TO PEE?
I’m also worried about my husband taking me because he doesn’t really know how to deal with these kind of things in a helpful manner. For example, his response when I tell him I’m scared is “don’t be scared!” or “quit making it a bigger deal than it is!” (Not very helpful.) And then, there’s that thing he said yesterday after my visit with the doctor. I was worried about what I was told during the visit (I have “protein in the fluid in the my eye” and that there shouldn’t be protein in the fluid in my eye. Also? She told me that I have A WANDERING EYE. WTF? WANDERING EYE?!) His response? “So, what’s the deal? Are you going blind?” Keep in mind- “blindness” had not even crossed my mind (yet, because it would have eventually.) When I pointed out that it was kind of mean to say that to me, knowing how easily freaked out I am about such things, he responded with “I was just trying to be funny and lighten the mood.”
(Trying to be funny by suggesting you may be going blind! Because, get it? HAHAHA BLINDNESS!)
You can understand why I’m nervous about having him there as my “support system.” Yes? I know he means well, he loves me and my body more than he loves an ice cold beer and Band of Brothers (and that’s, like, A LOT.) But, you know, his idea of “lightening the mood” and my idea of “lightening the mood”… COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!
There is one other thing that I’m concerned about, but not the kind of thing you can just come out and ask people about.
I’ve not had a lot of time to keep it Up To Code down there and well, is that something they’re going to be looking at? Like, are they going to let me keep the panties on? If not, I’m going to need an extra 20 minutes of shower time, so I really should stop writing now and get on that.
Thank you all for your comments and emails and messages. They mean the world to me and will help get me through all of my silly fears as I’m laying on a cold table (quite possibly panty-less (but please God, NO?). I don’t know what I’d do without you all.
This morning, I made a doctor appointment to have my eye checked out again.
It’s been blurry– I’ve been unable to focus. Especially in the morning, but also throughout the day. I figured the infection had come back and I’d need another prescription for more eye drops.
Then my doctor said things like “numb your eye” and “stain your eye” and “ulcer in your eye.”
So, he gave me some ointment, said I had to come back tomorrow to see if things were any better. If not, I’d have to go see an eye doctor and have things checked out further.
“Now, tell me about this lump on your leg.” He said.
You see, I’ve had a lump on my leg for a few years now. I had asked another doctor about it years ago and she assured me it was nothing– a “fat deposit” or something not important at all. So, I’ve let it go.
Except that it’s never gone away. And it’s started to feel a little different. I think about it from time to time. “I should get it checked out again.” Is something I’ve said to myself quite a few times. But I hold onto what the doctor told me years ago.
I hold onto that because I need to believe that’s true. Because I’m scared of the possibility that it’s actually *something.*
Today, I finally summoned the courage to bring it up to my doctor.
When he asked about it, I was all “it’s probably nothing ,but I figure I should ask because it’s better to be safe than sorry.” Then I made some not so funny joke about how I really can’t take another thing going wrong with my body because, you know, diseases and disorders and HA HA HA ENOUGH ALREADY, MY BODY.
He smiled and assured me it was probably nothing.
Then, he started to feel the lump.
And he felt some more. And some more.
I watched his face. His smile turned into a look of concern.
“Hm. This feels a little deep.”
My stomach started to feel a little sick.
“Yeah, I’m concerned with how deep this is and with how long you’ve had it. Do you have any other lumps?”
I did. Just beneath the one he was feeling.
He felt that one.
“I’m going to refer you to general surgery to have this removed. I want to get a biopsy on this.”
Wasn’t what I was expecting to hear. I was expecting him to laugh and say “You’re such a hypochondriac! You’re fine! Quit worrying!” I needed for him to say that.
But he didn’t.
He said “biopsy.”
As I was leaving, he handed me a prescription for my eye and a referral for surgery. “Make sure you make an appointment on your way for tomorrow so I can check on your eye.” He said.
But I didn’t do that. I just walked straight out of there, down the stairs, out the front door to call my husband.
I told him what had just happened.
“Don’t work yourself up!” Is what he said.
I hung up with him, went into the bathroom and started to cry. I couldn’t stop crying.
I’m trying really hard not to be dramatic about this, I’m keep telling myself things like “It’s probably nothing! You’ll laugh about this soon!”
But in the back of my mind, I can’t help but wonder… what if?
Yesterday, I woke up looking like this:
Double Eye Infection.
It sucked. I cried.
Because yesterday was the day before I turned 39 and 2 days before I celebrate my last year in my 30’s with friends at a piano bar somewhere in Orange County. And who wants to look like that when they’re Drunk Dancing next to a piano while some dude plays a bad cover of Don’t Stop Believing?
No one. That’s who.
Today, my eyes are slightly less swollen, my throat isn’t as sore and I have not cried once.
Today isn’t for crying. Today is for reflecting.
Reflecting upon the 38th year of my life.
Turns out, Year 38 was the best year of my adult life.
Nothing extraordinary happened.
But it was extraordinary.
It was a year full of small victories, both physical and emotional, that helped shape a Better Me.
A happier, healthier, stronger, more content Me.
It was the year I stopped hating my body because I was too busy loving my life.
38 was so good to me in so many ways, for so many reasons.
I got to spend time in the city I love the most, New York City.
Twice. And the second time, I got to ride to Central Park in a pedicab driven by Mario.
I reunited with friends from high school, 3 of them whose friendship saved me from feeling totally alone during the hardest years of my life. I went to my 20th high school reunion where I was stalked by an old class mate. I ran my first (treadmill) 5K. I bought and wore my first dress in many,many years.
I had lunch with Tony Hawk.
I hugged Erik Estrada.
I reconnected with dear, old friends and made new ones that have brought so much laughter (and Stella Rosa) into my life.
I Owned My Sexy. Oh, yes I did.
I got a promotion. I cut bangs. I had Hot Soapy Naked fun in Vegas.
I got my medical problems under control. I lost more weight. I gained more confidence.
I watched my daughter blossom in kindergarten, make new friends, learn to read. I watched my son win a drum contest, crush his opponents on the basketball court and receive numerous academic and social awards. I watched my oldest take his senior portraits and began his last year in high school.
I fell in love with dancing and I danced so hard, more than I’ve ever danced in my entire life.
Tomorrow night I plan on spending the evening dancing, surrounded by people whom I love. I started to panic a bit yesterday, because people started sending me the all too familiar “sorry, I won’t be able to make it after all” messages. But then I talked to Lena and she said “it doesn’t matter if it’s just me and you and your sister, we’re going to have so much fun.”
Oh, that Lena. She’s always right. Tomorrow is going to be so great.
But first, I have to get through today. The first day of my 39th year. I welcome it with open arms. And quite possibly, a drink in my hand.
A couple of weeks before BlogHer, I received a message from Karen.
“Been looking through your photos. You give AMAZING face — all sparkling eyes and happy smile. May I photograph you at BlogHer?”
The thing you need to know about Karen is a photographer. But she’s more than that. She has an amazing gift– her photos capture and bring out the unique beauty that each of her subjects possess.
I didn’t hesitate to say “yes.”
She came to my hotel room, pulled a chair in front of the window, asked me to sit down and began to shoot. And shoot and shoot and shoot. She showed me a few shots. I don’t like my face, but I sure did like what I saw through the viewfinder. She’s amazing, I tell you.
Yesterday, I received an email that contained the photo she chose to post on 1,000 faces.
As soon as I saw it, I began to pick apart my face. I immediately noticed all of the things that I hated. My wrinkles. My bad skin. My crooked teeth, and so on…But then I read what Karen wrote underneath my pictures.
“Isn’t she just radiant? She looks like the sun to me.”
My first reaction was to reject her description. Instead, I let her words sink in. And for a minute, I allowed myself to believe them.
I hope that one day, I can see myself the way that Karen does. Every day.
I wish I had a crazy good story to explain my lack of posting. The truth is pretty boring.
I’ve been busy.
this month has been BRUTAL and it’s not done screwing with me yet.
I am counting down the days until it is over. (8)
It’s not been all bad. There have been some great times– Like, when my daughter decided she wants to “pee like a boy for the rest of her life!” SEE? FUN TIMES IN JULY!
The fun isn’t over. Tomorrow, my little brother is getting married and I’m a) going to be the photographer b) learning a song to sing for their first dance. So much potential for disaster! The following week, my other brother is moving to Texas and taking my son with him for a week and then flying him home. Alone. I have never one of my kids fly alone and I am not happy with my decision to let him do so. However, He wanted to do this more than anything and my brother assured me that he’ll be safe (because the airlines will take good care of him?) He’ll be flying home the day before I leave for NYC, so that will be great for my Pre-Flying Stress!
And because things weren’t stressful enough, I waited until 2 days before my brother’s wedding to get my hair done. I love my stylist. She is amazing and her work is flawless. Except, something happened yesterday and she wasn’t.
I hate the cut. I tried to like it. My sister was all “it looks great!” and I was all “you really like it?” And she was all “I do. Your bangs are short, but I like it.” I tried to believe her. I wanted to believe her. But, the day after? I hate it.
Too many layers. Bangs are too short.
(Seriously. I don’t understand it. But I think I just have to get used to it. It’s not a bad cut, it’s just not what I was going for, I think?)
But the color is awesome, so, focusing on that! (So as not to cry or take scissors to my head. Which, we all know would BE VERY BAD. Like, SSUPER DUPER THE WORST, BAD.)
To sum things up.
Busy. Kids. Peeing. Wedding. Singing. Crying. Stressing. Bad haircut. No time to blog.
I plan on blogging regularly again once the kids are back in school (COME SOON, AUGUST 9TH.)
I hope you’re well. We’ll be in touch soon, Wonderful People Who (Still) Read My Blog.
I am afraid of many things.
Earthquakes. Bees. Beetles. Porta-potties. Bears. Raw chicken. Flying on airplanes.
And those are just a very few things. My list is long. I am a paranoid, overly cautious person who begs my kids not to dive into pools because I am afraid they will hit their heads on the bottom and paralyze themselves. And that is a true story. Just ask my boys who absolutely HATE when I come out to watch them swim (at other peoples houses because we do not have a pool.)
At the top of my Things I Am Afraid Of list is “Ferris Wheels.”
It’s not the *height* that scares me as much as the thought that the car (box? seat?) that I am in will flip over and because there are NO SEATBELTS (which, WTF, Ferris Wheel Safety Board?) I will fall to a painful, messy death.
On Saturday, my family spent a few hours on the Navy Pier in Chicago. There was no doubt in my mind that the second my daughter saw the ferris wheel she’d want to go on it.
I was right.
“Mommy, can we please go on the ferris wheel?” Is what she said most of the time we were walking around. I finally told her yes, she could go on with her brothers and her daddy because Momma don’t ride ferris wheels.
When I got in line to buy their tickets, the kids started begging me to go on with them. They said things like “it would be so great if the whole family rode it together!” and “we want you to go with us, it won’t be fun without you!”
I kept politely saying NO! WAY! until Ethan said something like “Ohh, you’re the one who forced us to go on roller coasters! You’re the one who said not to be afraid of them and now you’re too chicken to go on a ferris wheel?”
I couldn’t say no after that. I would have looked like a (rhymes with) “wussy.”
So, I said yes.
While we were in line, I made sure that my family was clear on the rules. Basically, the rules were “DO NOT MOVE ANY PART OF YOUR BODY WHATSOEVER IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM.”
I realized .03 seconds into the ride that it was a mistake on my part to make such a big deal about the whole “moving your body thing.” The second they shut the little gate on our car (cart? seat? WHAT IS THAT THING CALLED?) my kids started making Unnecessary Movements. And they continued to do so throughout the entire ride. This prompted me to freak out more than once. Which of course prompted them to laugh at me and say things like “Mom, you’re being too paranoid. Calm down.” And then they’d move their arm again FOR NO GOOD REASON.
The important thing is that I did it, I rode the effing ferris wheel.
But I can promise you this– I will never do it again.
It wouldn’t be fair to my vagina.