Okay, crappy blogger, checking in. Due to circumstances, I’ve been working at twice capacity which is great for the career and annihilating for everything else. I told Taryn today that I am all out of words. I’ve used them all up.
Speaking of Taryn, more and more of the cooking around here has landed in her lap. She’s an excellent cook; Ari is put to use chopping and stirring but she runs the kitchen. When I decided to get the garden turned and planted, it only made sense to bring the cook along with me.
I let her pick whatever she wanted to plant; it’s a small garden, but she had a great time wanting to buy aaaaaallllll the things; she wanted to buy plants she didn’t even know what to do with. I told her this game gets really expensive, and this year I’m determined not to buy 200 bucks worth of plants to get3 ropy pepper and 2 tomatoes. Like last year. And the year before.
Turns out Taryn is a little Alfred in training. I got home on Sunday late in the afternoon and we got to work turning and weeding. She raked it smooth and we planted and watered. She’d never done it before; she loved it. I swear every sentence out of my mouth started with “My Dad…” and I kept apologizing. She just laughed. She planted three hot peppers, each one hotter than the last. She calls it the Bermuda Triangle. It’ll be interesting.
It’s 20 years this fall since Dad died; I hope he knows his garden lives on, and the boy who can’t even remember him has brought home a girl who would have loved him.
Two years ago, I had the first of two surgeries that would remove my breasts and reconstruct new ones; my mom and sister both died of breast cancer, and our family history and information I had from my doctors and surgeons made this the best choice for me. It was few months before Angelina Jolie wrote her eloquent story for the NYT about her own decision, and I can’t tell you how important it was to read that as my own appointments were being set.
It’s been a long two years. I wrote this after the first surgery, after purposely not saying much going in. I didn’t even tell my sons until a couple of days in advance, because I knew they’d worry and I didn’t want them to. I was doing this to prevent worry, not start it. If you’re new to these pages, I write a column called Motherlode for the Hamilton Spectator and I share a lot with my readers. Don’t worry about clicking on the links; you’ll probably get a laugh or two. I usually keep it light. In a follow up a few weeks later, I had my first truly terrifying moment in all of this, and wrote the next column.
I’d made the right call, but I’d underestimated how much it would take out of me. When you’re a freelance writer, you can’t miss deadlines or you don’t get paid. You also can’t be unreliable or you’ll be out of a gig, fast. I tried to cover all my bases by writing ahead of deadline and treating a mastectomy like a vacation. Propped up in bed pretending nothing hurt while binge watching Friday Night Lights. I’ve had worse experiences. The second surgery six months later was a little easier, and I hauled myself to an awards banquet 24 hours later to receive a major writing award. I don’t remember much of that night, only that good friends took care of me and my paper was kind enough to run a pic from the previous year. I never change my hairstyle and all my clothes are black. I made it easy for them.
My spectacular surgeons had saved my life. Our medical system gave me the option. My family is, as always, amazing. I have friends who would go to the ends of the earth for me, or at least to Shoppers to refill prescriptions and get me jellybeans. I am lucky. Incredibly lucky. And yet, when my plastic surgeon started talking about nipples, the options made me consider whether I should be bothered. The one that intrigued me? Tattooing. I have no tattoos; at 52, I’m a little old school. Kyla Gutsche and I started an email conversation, and I finally plunked myself in front of her. I had avoided looking at myself in the mirror for a year; I needed Kyla. After our first session I went home and cried.
I’ve been documenting the past couple of years with Danny Bailey, an extraordinary photographer and amazing friend.Danny Bailey We weren’t sure what we were going to do with the pics and footage we scrabbled together as we went along, but we both knew we’d never be able to go back. Last week we did our ‘after’ pics; that tattooing process was finally complete. My trainer, Adam Higson, let us use his fabulous gym and with some amazing friends we had a blast. I’d mentioned to Dan that I needed some pics that hid my face, not because I was ashamed, but because I wanted them to represent every woman. It’s so difficult to know what lies ahead when you go down this road, and the options come at you fast and furious, if at all. It’s a maze; I just wanted women to know what was possible.
Kyla posted an amazing pic from the session on her Facebook account; her colleague was holding an event at the Royal Ontario Museum a few nights ago called Why We Ink, full of some stunning pics of tattoos for survivors and those who love them. She asked Kyla if she could include my pic. Of course she could! That’s the whole point!
Facebook suspended Kyla’s account. Her business page. She works with cancer survivors and burn victims. She has a pHd in medical illustration. They made her remove the pic she’d posted of me. This image is inappropriate it seems, yet I’m surrounded by the most sexualized images possible around the clock. Something is wrong here. FB hasn’t made me take my post down, yet. But I had so many people share it, it was an overwhelming experience. It’s like they were daring FB. My friends and colleagues rock.
I’m putting the pic up here – there’s your warning.
Well, not this exactly. This picture. Alfie standing on Christer’s head.
Been a crazy couple of weeks, and I haven’t been blogging. Haven’t been reading much either, though I’ve been pumping out work at a crazy rate, which is good. Finally got the photo shoot in for what is the end of two years of surgeries and healing and assorted hassles. Been a long haul; the photographer, Danny Bailey, and I are hoping to wrestle some kind of doc or article out of all this. It’s tough being unsure of the direction it will take, but I do know that I want to share with women everything I’ve learned, and and answer any questions I can. Every time I’ve been in my surgeon’s office lately, he’s hauled me into another examining room to do show and tell for another patient about my boobs and my tattoos. And I couldn’t be happier. Final story will end up here, one way or another, eventually. Adam Higson has been a godsend; thank you, buddy. Stay well. And me? Well, I’m just going to go back to eating cheese and bread…
” I had struggled to explain how America has always been willing to dare, and double-dog dare, and triple-dog dare itself. America has always offered to drink anything for five dollars, no matter how disgusting.”
Got to take the kids (well, three of ‘em) to Newport Beach for a few days. It was pretty magical. Thank you, Chrysler. Christer hadn’t renewed his passport and Alfie really needed him home, anyway. Pammy was happy to abandon them both and come along with Ari and Taryn. We stayed at the spectacular Pelican Hill Resort, and they got used to the good life in about ten seconds.
A colleague announced that Ari looked like Mitt Romney and called him the Young Republican the whole time. That’s what happens when you buy a new shirt and comb your hair. Last week, he was a member of a boy band…
We could have gone anywhere we wanted, but we headed to Santa Monica Pier because for some reason, I just like it.
And I really liked having the kids with me.
Read this today about the Loomis Gang, a reprint from 1877. Pretty cool. And tonight, I will have to find some old western to watch.
Lorraine Sommerfeld began writing when she was about to turn 40, because it was cheaper than a red convertible. Her weekly column Drive, She Said is a nod to those of us who tend to turn the key rather than pop the hood.
Motherlode, in the Hamilton Spectator is a weekly peek at her harrowing life with two sons, two cats, a crumbling house and lot of laughter.
Winner of an Erma Bombeck Humour Award, Sommerfeld's work has also appeared in magazines and wherever else someone has stolen it off the Internet. She is a frequent TV and radio guest, and a keynote speaker in a variety of forums that seek her witty repartee.