Changes

Mini Me went to school this year. As you may recall, we’ve homeschooled up until now, and it’s been an adjustment, but it was time. She’s done pretty well with school, gotten good grades, survived being called a loser for helping someone else, made some new friends, become known for her graffiti art skills, and narrowly escaped getting in trouble for possession of a Sharpie. She’s got some teachers she loves, and some that she could take or leave, and none that are really bad. However, this grading period has landed her in a health class with a teacher who is a cancer survivor. Mini Me knows this because the teacher has mentioned it in class. Every. single. day.

I know a couple of people like that, too. Thankfully, I’m not trapped in a room with them for an hour 5 days a week. I would be hoarse from singing “la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you” all the time. So, I feel Mini Me’s pain, but it also makes me laugh, because, well, better her than me.

Anywho, so this whole kid-going-to-school thing has left me without a day job, so to speak. Over the holidays I worked a seasonal UPS job (more on that at a later date), and I’ve been doing some freelancing, which is fun. I’d like to do some more of that kind of thing, and the way to get better at writing, and also to keep the flow going, is to keep writing. So, my goal is to write every day. At least every week day. That won’t always mean I’ll write here, but it will probably increase the frequency of my posts, which, let’s face it, have been pretty darned infrequent over the past few months. Of course, some of that is because I don’t have any funny cancer stories to tell since I’m not very cancery these days, and The Foob has gone to Florida for the winter with all of the other snowbirds. I can only get so much mileage out of those quarterly doctor appointments with Dr Birhiray.

That leaves me with a few options for this blog. I could write about whatever strikes me as funny in regular, non-cancer life. Or I could write about food. We all know I love that. I could write deep, inspirational posts. Okay, yeah, that’s probably going to happen, with the frequency of a leap year or something. I could just retire, but I do enjoy the blog, and my readers so I don’t really want to do that. And as I said, I think I need the exercise anyway.

What say you, my readers? Any of the above? A combination? Please let me know.

Dear Pat,

You asked me what I’ve learned from The Cancer, and it didn’t bother me in the least because after all we hadn’t seen each other in over 10 years, and if you hadn’t brought it up, The Cancer might have sat there in the booth casting its elephant shaped shadow over our conversation. It’s an interesting question, for which you may have expected a clichéd answer, but might have suspected that’s not really what you’d get from me. Sometimes people say that having The Cancer has made them appreciate life more. Well, I don’t think I had a lack of appreciation for life before, but I told you what I didn’t appreciate enough: nose hairs and eyelashes. It’s astounding how much stuff gets in your eyes without lashes to protect them, and it’s crazy how many random nasal drips you have when there are no nose hairs to keep them corralled.

I told you about being follicularly challenged, but our conversation moved on to other things, and later I didn’t really feel like I’d given you a good answer. Thinking about your question, I remembered that when I was in the middle of that summer of chemo, I was waiting at the orthodontist one day and decided to write down on tiny Post-its some things I had learned. I only found two of those, but the central theme was the same for all of them as I recall: Your life is now. Sounds strangely like a Mellencamp lyric, perhaps because it is.

At any rate, if there is one thing that I’ve learned—not from The Cancer, but from God, who allowed me to go through this process—it’s that we don’t get to pick our situation, only what we do with the moment. And there is value in every moment. I don’t mean that in a sappy “life is precious because The Cancer tried to kill me” sort of way, but in a “we need to make it count” sort of way. What I wrote on that first Post-it was this: Say the kind things you think, but don’t always communicate. Don’t waste an opportunity to show love to people.

We don’t have to do what the world considers to be something big with our lives. Sometimes the small things are really the big things. But we need to do those now, because we have no guarantee that we’ll have the opportunity or ability to do them at any other time. So, that’s the big lesson, according to me. I hope I’ve answered your question a little better this time. Thanks for making me think—I’m so glad you’re my friend.

You Say “Cancer”, I Say “La-La-La I Can’t Hear You”

We’re closing in on the second pinkest month of the year: February.  Yes, thanks to Valentine’s Day, next month will be saturated in pink and red, although thankfully, not pink ribbons.  However, if you just can’t resist the urge to add a little cancer reminder to your Valentine’s Day, I’ve got a splendid gift idea for you. 

I present for your consideration, The Pink Ribbon Snuggie.

I ask you, could there be a sexier Valentine’s Day gift?

And trendy, too, right?  I mean, everyone’s wearing a Snuggie these days.

Of course, your recipient may not have as much hair as our Snuggie model does.  In fact, she may be nearly bald, in which case may I suggest the addition of this little beauty?

A lint roller, you may recall, was a very handy tool indeed for removing the painful little dead nubbins from my nearly bald noggin.  How appropriate, then, that it come in pink ribbon flavor.

February is also the anniversary of my diagnosis, which was 3 years ago.  To look at me you’d never know, unless you know.   And therein lies the problem, because some people who know seem to have forgotten everything else they know about me.  The Cancer, it seems, has overshadowed any previous identity I had.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, that is one of the most difficult things about having the daggone cancer!  Seriously.  Being bald was a pain, but it only lasted a few months.  How many years will it take for people to stop associating me with The Cancer

Just yesterday, I ran into someone, who has seen me, repeatedly, over the past 3 years.    So she knows that I’ve been leading a normal life.  After about 3 minutes of small talk, the party in question lowers her voice into that hushed, concerned tone that people always use when they ask, “So, how is your cancer doing?  Is it still in remission?”  I tried (in vain, I’m sure) to hide my irritation, as I assured her that I’m just jim dandy fine.  “Well, I hadn’t heard anything, so I just wondered,” she said.  “That’s because there isnt anything to tell,” I replied, again, trying to hide my irritation.  Mini Me, who happened to be standing right there, just turned away to chuckle to herself.

First of all, let me just state for the record that I HATE it when people say “your cancer” like it’s a pet or a family member.  How’s your grandma?  How’s your kid?  How’s your cancer?  See what I mean?  Second of all, do I ask you about your medical issues?  “So, Opal, do you still have those hemorrhoids?  I hadn’t heard anything, so I just wondered.  You know, it’s funny, just the other day I was thinking of you, but I couldn’t remember your name, all I could remember was that you had hemorrhoids.”  And thirdly, I’ve moved on and you should, too.  For crying out loud!  Really, you know what?  I don’t even think about The Cancer at all until you ASK.  Next time, let’s just have normal conversation, okay?

So, my dear readers, how do you think I should handle these folks?  Respond, as Hubster suggested, with a vague and mysterious, “I don’t want to talk about it”?  Put my fingers in my hears and sing, “La-la-la I can’t hear you?” Or is there a better option that I’m not thinking of?

Pink Ribbon Overload: Marketing Ploy? What Makes You Say That?

IMG_0194Have you ever noticed that most pink ribbon products are geared toward women? Okay, our last entry was an obvious exception. But really, have you ever seen manly pink ribbon products? Maybe it’s just that the whole pepto pink thing doesn’t really convey the manliness that, say Craftsman is looking for in its marketing. About the closest thing I’ve seen to a pink ribbon man product are the NFL’s breast cancer awareness games this month, where we get to see big, burly football men wearing pink football accessories.  Which is kinda cool.IMG_0195

But back to the lack of pink ribbon man products.  Their conspicuous absence is probably why I have a hard time believing that most pink ribbon products are anything more than marketing. It wouldn’t really be worth it to Valvoline to go to the trouble of having pink boxes made, because the fact of the matter is, men don’t give a fat crap about breast cancer. No, really. Unless they have a loved one who’s been affected by it, or in the rare case that they have it themselves, they really don’t care.  And since some guys are just insecure enough to actually feel threatened by a pink ribbon on their razor blade package, it might cause the company to actually lose sales.  Hence why you don’t see pink ribbons plastered all over boxes of shotgun shells and cans of Skoal.  (Okay, yes, some women do use motor oil, shotgun shells, and Skoal, especially in Kentucky.  However, I doubt those are the kind of women who are going to base their buying decisions on a cutesy pink package anyway.  Just sayin’.)photo

DSC03656On the other hand, there is just a ridiculous amount of pink ribbon stuff that falls into categories that women traditionally buy, such as the pink ribbon Huggies and dishwasher soap submitted by our friend Ashlee.

Taste buds dead from chemo?  Then you’ll love the pink ribbon Hamburger Helper I found at Kmart.  And isn’t it great how it’s got that little hand mascot to remind us to do our monthly exams? 

Or if you’re a foodie like me, perhaps you’d enjoy cooking a meal from scratch using this bunch of breast cancer fungi. Our friend Tanya writes, “What’s for dinner, you ask? Why apricot chicken with mushroom cancer, um, I mean cream sauce.” 

Mmmmm!

 

Pink Ribbon Overload: Permanent Reminders

My friend Jody sent in these two entries, with the following comment:  “I think you should get a pink ribbon tat & navel ring to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month!  Here are a few for you to check out!  If you don’t like these, don’t worry…they come in many different styles!”

JJF-00646_thumb You know, Jody, I was just thinking to myself the other day, “Why Self, can you believe you haven’t had a surgery, or any other sort of invasive cancer-related thing for nearly a year?  I mean, gee Self, pretty soon you might just forget you ever had The Cancer and go back to a normal life.  You know, aside from the implant, and the 10-inch long scar, and the newpple that’s made from a piece of your groin, there’s really nothing to remind you of the year you spent your summer vacation being bald and having no eyebrows.  You know, Self, your memory is pretty bad, thanks to the Tamoxifen you take every night.  How will you ever remember the summer after chemo when you only had one boob, and had to find a Foob compatible bathing suit to wear to the water park?”

 I was really worried.  I mean, gee, if there’s one thing I never want to forget, it’s the ridiculous constipation that chemo causes.  So, Jody, I was SO glad when you emailed me the pink ribbon tattoo.  Of course!  Here I was planning to get my newpple tattooed to look more natural, and all along I was missing a grand opportunity!  Why, with a pink ribbon tattoo on the noob, I’ll never forget about The Cancer.  But gee, I just don’t know.  It seems like such a waste to put all the awareness someplace where only I can enjoy it.  So, I’m thinking perhaps I’ll go for the always classy neck tattoo. 

 pink ribbon navel ringJody also suggested the navel ring.  There again, who’s gonna see it?  Hubster?  Oh Honey, trust me, he’s already aware of The Cancer.  Of course, given my penchant for the gaudy, there’s a good chance that gravity would have the Flava Flav sized ornament I’d pick stretching out my belly button, and swinging between my knees like a Focault pendulum. Still, just to be on the safe side, I think I should probably get a pink ribbon belly shirt to go along with it.   Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find one of those online though.  A tube top might work, too, but I haven’t seen one of those either.  Dang it.  Maybe the belly button ring isn’t such a good awareness tool, after all.

It’s October 1st. Let the Pinkness Begin.

Today is October 1—the official start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  You know, there are just so many folks out there who aren’t aware of breast cancer.  Like newborn babies, and aliens, and goats, and…well, that’s about it.  Because there is no escape.  None.  As we demonstrated with last year’s parade of Pink Ribbon products, virtually no retail segment was immune to the pinkness of October.  Cat litter?  Check.  Hair dryer? Check.  Pita chips?  Check.  Cement mixer?  Check. 

 See?  So unless you’ve spent the last 25 years or so frozen in carbonite like Han Solo, you’re probably very much aware of breast cancer.  Yet the pinkness keeps coming. 

 Recently the executive editor of a local magazine, Terre Haute Living, approached me about doing some freelance work.  I decided to do it, and submitted a piece to be published in the upcoming November/December issue.  This is very cool, but you’re probably wondering why my pink ribbon train has derailed.  It hasn’t—hang with me.  When I went to actually meet Terre Haute Living’s Shaun Hussey in person, he made reference to the cover of the September/October issue, and how he’d gotten some criticism for the cover design.  Unlike most issues, this one had no words, except for the title, and apparently some folks weren’t down with that.

DSC03637 I said I hadn’t seen it, and he reached over and grabbed a copy to show me.   It was emblazoned, simply, with a ginormous pink ribbon.  Perfect.  And this is the publication from which I’ll be getting my first print publishing credits. 

 Too bad I didn’t get this gig a month earlier.  Now that would have been some funny stuff.

Josh Bell Loves Pete’s Pride Pink Ribbon Pork Fritters

Okay, not really.  I mean, Josh would probably like them, but there is no such thing.  Dang it.  Pete’s Pride is totally missing out on some mad marketing AND alliteration opportunities.

As you guys surely know by now, I’m a big nerd who gets a whole lot of amusement out of perusing the search engine terms people have used to find this blog.  Some things are to be expected, especially since we’re nearing October, like the current top three for the past 30 days: “pink ribbon cake pan”, “pink ribbon cake”, and “pink ribbon”.  But the 4th item on the list is a little puzzling to me—Richard Simmons.  Really?  Is October Richard Simmons Awareness Month, too?  Wonder what color the ribbon is for that one.  Is sequined a color?  Richard Simmons beat out the perpetual favorite “bald girlfriend” (I’m pretty sure that I really, really don’t want to know the motivation behind that one) and the believe it or not “pork fritter” is way down the list at number 8.  Pork fritter fans need not worry, however, because in the all time search engine term standings, the humble pork fritter holds 3 of the top 5 slots.

And speaking of pork fritter fans…if you’ve been keeping up on the comments, you know that our friend Nanine is a transplanted Hoosier, living in Texas, who has been searching for Pete’s Pride Pork Fritters to no avail.  Of course, since we ARE pretty high on the google results, she ended up here, and asked if I knew who makes Pete’s Pride.  I didn’t, but I do now.  I don’t know why I was even at all surprised to learn that Pete’s Pride Pork Fritters are manufactured by Al Pete Meats (recently acquired by Monogram Foods) in none other than Muncie, Indiana.   Why of course they are!  Where else?  So, Nanine, I hope this helps you in your quest.  Keep us posted—we love having an excuse to write about pork fritters. (We also love referring to ourselves in the first person plural.)

Now back to those searches.  It gives me a chuckle every time someone gets here from googling “Josh Bell poet” or some other variation.  If you recall, my old friend Josh has the distinct misfortune of sharing his name with another extremely famous Josh from Indiana.  Hence, folks looking for my friend must include poetry/poem/poet in their search.  However, like other violin-toting super villains, the fantastically famous Joshua Bell will stop at nothing in his quest to squash my dear Josh like a bug—going so far as to title one of his albums “Poeme”.  Really, can there be any other explanation for this?  So, it was especially amusing to me when some obviously determined fan of my Josh recently got here by searching “josh bell poetry or poem or poet not violinist”.   Take that, you fancy fiddler.

This weekend is the local Race for the Cure.  Yes, I’m going.  No, I’m probably not doing the survivor parade.  Wearing the pink shirt is about as much as you can expect from me.  And Thursday is the first day of October, so get those Pink Ribbon Overload pictures to me.  I’ll be starting off the month with one of my own finds and the story of how it came into my possession.  That’s right, I actually own this one, but even that’s not the whole story, so check back with me on Thursday afternoon to get the scoop.